iJasmine Beecham's Climb
The starting point didn't limit how far she reached
The enduring presence of a caring adult in a young person’s life is a difference maker. Stay in school or drop out? Choose a healthy habit or risky behavior? Realize potential or detour from a dream?
“I grew up in Kansas City,” said Cristo Rey alumna Jasmine Beecham. “In elementary school, I started falling behind.”
Beecham could have given in to the ‘school is not cool’ mentality, but she didn’t.
“In an after school tutoring program, I met Pattie Kettler,” said Beecham. “She became my first mentor.”
Kettler helped Jasmine accurately evaluate her skills, see her blind spots, and determine a plan to improve her grades. Through this relationship, she learned that when you encounter a curve, “You lean in,” said Jasmine.
“A switch flipped in the fifth and sixth grades. I caught up and got engaged,” said Jasmine. “My relationship with my mentor, made me recognize the value of strong role models. Throughout my life, I have been blessed with amazing and special adults who have inspired me.”
“By the end of eighth grade, I was Valedictorian of my class at Wendell Phillips Elementary School,” Beecham recalled.
When Beecham was ready for high school, she was encouraged to apply to Cristo Rey Kansas City. She entered in the first class of freshmen, when Cristo Rey was a mere dream.
“I really was attracted to the work component and having a day that was all about individual responsibility on the job,” said Jasmine.
Through the Corporate Work Study Program, Beecham went to work one day a week at Seton Center her freshman year. Each fall brought a new assignment, from Andrews McMeel to Security Bank, and finally as a senior at Kansas City Life Insurance. At each workplace, Jasmine picked up more mentoring and more confidence.
Reflecting on the classroom experience at Cristo Rey, Beecham said, “I found teachers who believed in me and believed that I could accomplish college-prep courses.”
A litany of teachers’ names tumbled out, “Ms. Halley, Mrs. Plowman, Mrs. Organ, oh and Mrs. Ligon, who made me feel that I could do chemistry!” said Jasmine.
In high school, Beecham learned to look for mentors in the classroom, on the job, and those that were in plain sight. Along the way, she discovered that she wanted to be a nurse. And, the close at hand mentor was her grandmother, Jessie Coleman, who had spent 63 years in the nursing profession.
“First, I learned that all of those science and math courses required at Cristo Rey were absolutely essential to my success in college,” said Jasmine. “I also realized that work study could help me understand my career goals. So, I worked at KCP&L in the Occupational Health Department one summer.”
At graduation from high school in 2010, she left designated as a Bloch Scholar. The program covers full tuition for qualified students who maintain GPA and full-time status. Armed with additional scholarships, Beecham graduated from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Nursing - debt free.
In college, Jasmine survived clinical rotations at St. Luke’s, Truman, KU Med, and Shawnee Mission Medical Center. On one rotation, Beecham recognized, responded to and initiated a Code Blue for a patient in cardiac distress.
In true form, Beecham recalled, “My nursing supervisor, an amazing woman, praised me for carefully monitoring the patient and recognizing that he had an abnormal asystole.”
With the support of her family, teachers and mentors, Jasmine passed her nursing boards on the first try. Today, she is nurse at Truman Medical Center working on a medical-surgical unit.
Like countless others, Jasmine Beecham is proof of the wisdom, where a child starts in life cannot determine how far he or she climbs.
Beecham's circle of support also includes her mom, Tawana Beecham, who modeled for her how to give and get support. Jasmine's younger sister, Kiesha Beecham, was inspired by her and is set to graduate this spring. Keisha is headed to college in the fall!