Were Jasmine Omorogbe a film character, she’d have to be toned down. Otherwise nobody would believe it.
She’s a superior academic, graduating a major university with flying colors and elite institutions rolling out red carpets for advanced study. On top of which, she’s a down-to-earth, profoundly attractive 23-year-old who aspires to return to and contribute to the community. A young Lorraine Toussaint would do nicely playing the part.
Jasmine Omorogbe, it turns out, is not some over-achieving Hollywood stereotype implausibly exemplifying intelligent Black women. She actually graduated from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities and has been accepted at, among other elite schools, Harvard. She may go there, she may not.
She’s been accepted at more universities than most people apply to, noting, “I have a lot of thinking to do.” Once she decides where to take up graduate study, the former Patrick Henry High School student plans to return home and help others get their academic act together.
“I am from North Minneapolis, and a lot of work I’ve been doing [at the U of M] has been around helping other students get to college, sort of serving as a role model. I do a lot of public speaking at different high schools, talking to youth about what they need to do [in order to] go to college. I give presentations to parents a lot about how they can get their children to college.”
Graduating from a top outfit like the U of M is prestigious enough. Doing it with nearly straight A’s is, to say the least, phenomenal. That’s the word for Jasmine Omorogbe, U of M Bachelor of Arts in communication studies, summa cum laude, who in the College of Liberal Arts’ University Honors Program racked up a GPA of 3.82 and, in her major field, a GPA of 3.96.
The university might as well have thrown those last four one-hundredths of a point in as a formality. No matter — Omorogbe is accepted for graduate study at Harvard University as well as several other schools. A free agent, so to speak, in the perfect position to field offers, she’s not leaning anywhere yet.
One obvious question is if this scholastic superstar might wind up at the nation’s most highly lauded Black school, Howard University. “When I researched Howard University,” she says, “they did not offer programs in the concentrations that I was looking to go into.” Too bad. Howard’s loss.
Her U of M summa thesis was “Retention of African American Students.” It was overseen at the College of Liberal Arts by notables Dr. Jeremy Rose, Dr. Ron Greene and Dr. Rose Brewer. There is a considerable listing of other achievements from her four years of study, such as membership in the professional organizations People of Color Commission of the Minnesota College Personnel Association, National Association of College Admission Counselors, and Minnesota Association of Counselors of Color Programming Committee.
Among her honors and awards are the President’s Student Leadership Award, University of Minnesota Alumni Association Student Leadership Award, and Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity Award. Pursuant to helping other students get into college, she was African American recruitment coordinator and admissions counselor at the U of M.
Her work in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions entailed, among other responsibilities, building relationships with external community organizations specific to the African American community, implementing extensive recruitment and relationship-building efforts, and coordinating and delivering between eight and 10 information presentations each month.
Omorogbe also piloted the recruitment initiative “Northern Stars” for a special population of high-achieving African American Minnesota resident students and exceeded the enrollment target by nearly 30 percent. She initiated the creation of the Huntley House for African American Males Living-Learning Community, which will open in the fall of this year.
There is more, but the picture’s clear: Jasmine Omorogbe has been applying her smarts along with a healthy amount of elbow grease to the challenging task she’s taken on.
Part of that task has the fundamental aim of helping North Minneapolis youth realize that they are not, by geography, confined to a dead-end future. “Instilling the value of education is absolutely necessary,” she says. “Right now, if all they see is somebody on the block, then that’s what they want to grow up and be — somebody on the block. We have to make sure they know there’s something better and that education is the greatest equalizer.”
With all she has going for her, Jasmine Omorogbe could just pick up stakes, move on to promising career opportunities, and not spare so much as a backward glance over her shoulder for those left behind. Why isn’t she taking the I-have-overcome approach to life and simply going for self?
“There’s no way I could have that kind of attitude,” Omorogbe says. “I’ve had so many who were in my network of support and still are now. I needed others’ support. I feel it’s right that I would do the same thing [in return]. That’s the only way that we all come up.”
Just what kind of name, you might wonder, is Omorogbe? “It’s Nigerian. My dad is from Nigeria and my mom is from Alabama.” She adds with a smile, “That makes me truly African American.”
Jasmine Omorogbe is, it goes without saying, an impressive, vastly accomplished individual with a sterling future ahead of her. And, if she has anything to say about it, that bright future will be shining its light in North Minneapolis.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.