December 6, 2016  |  Civic Engagement Detroit EducationSocial Capital

Jasma Motley

My name is Jasma Motley, I’m currently obtaining a dual Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Systems and Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Michigan. I’m enrolled as a senior and am trying to finance my last year of school — since I have exhausted my financial aid. My predicament started when I dropped out of high school — coming from a home where my parents barely completed their GEDs. Being a high school dropout I was never sure if I would be able to attend anything more than a community college.

Without proper guidance I ping-ponged in different fields of study wasting time, money, and college credits. After years of working in manufacturing I discovered something that I had become passionate about, sadly I would never be compensated properly without the credentials. I took a bold step and applied to University of Michigan but was denied admission. That did not stop me: I knew I had to have my degree from one of the top Universities in my field, a way to prove to myself and the world, I am good enough! I enrolled into another semester at community college, brought my grade point average up, and reapplied, and was accepted.

My first goal is to complete my degree so that my 2 sons can witness the struggle and see how hard work and diligence pays off. I’m glad that I can share my experience with kids — ho to apply for scholarships, how to manage federal loans, and the importance of having a definite goal when choosing an academic path. In my research, I’ve discovered plenty of resources available for college preparation but find they aren’t stressed in the urban community. Taking an hour a week to formulate a list of resources and developing a checklist could save so much stress. I have been sharing this checklist and information with high schools students in my community. I also discuss STEM programs with them and, sadly, most urban children have no idea what that means. It’s important that these children recognize their options and that engineering is more than building cars and programming robots.

I’m hoping to be an example that no matter what your past is or your current circumstances, you can become greater. There is a huge market for people in my position that has been overlooked. I would love to engage children into the world of engineering, showing them how it branches out into everything we do, have and see. Once that door is opened I’m hoping to light a spark that continues to burn with intensity. I want to give children more to look at than a reality star and see and here greatness in their own neighborhood. I didn’t have role models growing up, no one how to become model a well rounded adult. However, it’s never too late to grow up and learn a new thing or two and I am hoping I can save someone the pain and trouble while providing a life my family deserves.

I worked hard in community college to improve my grades and get accepted to a 4-year engineering degree program.

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