Most students when asked what they want to study in college, may not even know until they’ve taken a few college courses, much less in high school.
Jasmin Alsaied has it all planned, including being the first female joint chief of staff. The 17-year-old senior at E.E. Smith High School is now closer to her goal to become a nuclear engineer in the Navy by winning a U.S. Navy ROTC Immediate Selection Scholarship, Nov. 14.
The daughter of Montaser Alsaied and Sgt. Ikram Salah, XVIII Airborne Corps, said she knew something was fishy before she received the award at her school.
“When I first walked through the door, I saw this kind of set up and I thought ‘maybe they’re doing something really fancy’ because we have recruiters come all the time. And then I saw Commander (Richard) Brantley, (commanding officer of the recruiting district), I said ‘Wait a minute, something’s up here.’
Afterwards, I found out they had my parents hiding and half of ROTC knew and no one told me,” said Jasmin.
“When he (Brantley) said ‘Will Jasmin Alsaied please come up,’ my heart hit the floor and came right back up so I could walk up there and see what he wanted to talk about,” she added.
The four-year scholarship, worth up to $180,000, includes full tuition at a college or university, fees, books, uniforms and a monthly stipend of $250. The graduate enters the Navy as a commissioned officer in occupations such as engineering, pilot, naval flight officer or surface warfare officer.
“She worked very hard for it. I believe ‘mission accomplished’ for her. That’s what she aimed for and that’s what she deserves. I am beyond thrilled,” said Salah, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Afghanistan/Pakistan Language Training Detachment.
Among the many people who helped her through the scholarship process, Jasmin mentions two who gave her the most assistance and both wrote glowing letters of recommendations.
Emily Grimes, a Fort Bragg School support liaison, helped the Alsaied Family find the right schools for Jasmin and her brother, Helmy Jr., 14, when they first moved to Fort Bragg.
“She gave us her undivided attention. She has been with me through this whole process,” said Jasmin.
Grimes said she is very impressed with Jasmin.
“The sky’s the limit for Jasmin. She will definitely go places,” she said.
After meeting Grimes, Jasmin volunteered for the school liaison office. “She was phenomenal! She has a tremendous work ethic. You only need to show her how to do something once and she can master it from that point forward. She was very helpful as we were planning for the annual Youth Leadership Conference,” added Grimes.
Another one of Jasmin’s mentors is Capt. Aaron Schaak from the Fayetteville Composite Squadron of the North Carolina Civil Air Patrol. Jasmin is the Alpha Flight Commander in the squadron.
“What an incredible man, Captain Schaak is. I would say from the people I’ve met here at Fort Bragg, he and Ms. Emily are two really important people. His style of leadership is spot on. It not only works, but it works well. I’ve seen what he’s done with the squadrons and I’ve seen other squadrons. Our squadron is up here,” said Jasmin holding her hand up high.
She attended a Civil Air Patrol encampment at Camp Butner National Guard Training Center N.C., where she won the Honor NCO award.
“I was shocked because the whole week you’re worried about memorizing what you need to, standing at attention or getting that salute at the perfect angle that you don’t have to think ‘are they going to give me Honor NCO?’
Jasmin said her interest in engineering began when she attended a ‘Women in Engineering’ camp at Georgia Institute of Technology. Her interest in nuclear engineering started with a conversation with her ninth grade high school teacher. Soon she was enrolled into a three-week summer course at N.C. State University exploring roles nuclear technologies play in meeting the needs of society and solving everyday problems.
“That was important for me to understand what I was going into. I can now say with confidence, this is how they use it, this is the controversy surrounding it but this is how we can make it better,” said Jasmin.
The all-around soccer player and violinist now has a choice most of her peers would envy — what university should she attend?
She said she is looking at Stanford University, Duke University, NC State University, or the University of California at Berkley.
Jasmin’s parents are both delighted with her progress but are very quick to say they only guide her.
“This is all her hard work. I don’t help her with anything. That’s all her. I talk about all of her achievements because I’m so proud of her,” said Salah.
“I am very proud of her,” said Alsaied. “I cannot ask for more than that. You will not believe how proud I was that day (she received the scholarship).”