When ROC the Future set out to find a new co-chair for the Whole Child Outcome Team (WCOT), Jasmin Vega emerged as an obvious choice. Despite joining the organization just two months ago, she’s made a powerful first impression. At every Parent/Family Partner meeting, Jasmin is the first to offer an acknowledgement, affirmation or encouraging word to lift the team’s spirits.

Jasmin believes a positive outlook and the courage to speak out against inequity are essential to the work that she and her fellow Parent/Family Partners are leading for the Whole Child Initiative. To improve the community, she says, “Parents have to speak up, ask for support, and love ourselves.”

As a mother of three and business owner, she brings that same positive energy – and a little bit of moxie – to Be-You-Tiful Masterpiece, a hair salon she has operated for nine years. “So, you want a  crazy old hairstyle?” asks Jasmin. “Whatever you want, just be you. Express yourself. Be happy. Be courageous.”

As co-chair of the WCOT, she appreciates the Whole Child Initiative’s parent-centered approach, where leadership is evenly distributed between parents and other stakeholders.  “I have a seat at the table with funders, system partners, and the ROC the Future backbone staff. They want to hear our voice. Parents are equal partners in this work.”

For Jasmin, working with the Whole Child Initiative is personal. One of her children needs help with reading and math. Another suffers from trauma related to her father’s death. And Jasmin has had her own struggles and pain over the loss of a loved one. That only motivates her to help others even more.

“I’m turning my trauma into my testimony,” she explains. “Helping people connect to resources that I never knew were available when I was going through similar situations. Being able to lead other parents. All of these things drew me to the Whole Child Initiative.”

Jasmin is excited to be part of a team that’s reimagining what equity in childhood education will look like in the Rochester community. She and her kids lived in Fairport for three years, so she knows how different the student experience can be from the suburbs to the city. “I want kids in the city school district to have the same opportunities that I’ve seen kids in the suburbs have.”

Reflecting on being selected as a co-chair of the WCOT, Jasmin says, “To me, it means everything. It means change in myself and in my community. It gives us so much to look forward to. It shows us that anything is possible.”