Story 5 of 20: Then and Now by Jazeline Rodriguez

We met Jazeline Rodriguez when she was a student at Sullivan High School. She worked closely with both Umoja Social Emotional Learning and Restorative Justice staff. In the fifth story in our 20 stories for 20 years series, we share an inspiring video that tells of Jazeline’s transformation from high school to college.

In the first part of this video, we hear from Jazeline as a junior in high school. She recalls getting into fights her freshman year and being suspended with no explanation why. This, she shares, is why the Umoja Peace Room meant so much to her while she was at Sullivan. The second part of the video shows Jazeline as a thriving college student. Watch Jazeline’s powerful story here.

We checked in with Jazeline recently to see what she has been up to since this video was filmed last year. She informed us that she is now in her second year of college, and she is currently working at The Olive Garden as a server and host. According to Jazeline, school can get stressful, but she has been able to manage it. 

She also shared that the Peace Room still influences her on a day-to-day basis. She explained that there are times where she wants to yell and show frustration in a negative way, but she remembers her time in the Peace Room at Sullivan, and she uses her experiences as reminders to step back and focus on what she needs to do. 

In celebration of our 20th anniversary, we asked Jazeline if she wanted to say anything to a future Umoja student. This is what she shared with us: "You can't always live your life based on the negative. Being able to have the space to talk about any issues you have is a healer. Always speak your mind in a positive way to solve the conflict you are having." 

Well said, Jazeline. We couldn’t agree more.

*Jazeline, photographed above with fellow students, Jonathan and Jabari at Umoja's Spring Fling benefit gala in March 2016