2018 Labor Studies Q & A: Activist Scholar With Eyes Set on Law School

To celebrate the Labor Studies class of 2018, we interviewed recent graduates. Jasmine Ceron is passionate about law and justice, she majored in Political Science with a minor in Labor Studies and was recently accepted into the UCLA Law Fellows Program. This past Saturday, she was one of two student speakers selected to deliver a speech at the Labor Studies graduation ceremony. In this interview she shares her Labor Studies memories and her plans for the future. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was raised by my grandfather in South Central. My grandfather is an immigrant from El Salvador. He left El Salvador because his life was in danger. My mother was in and out of my life because she was addicted to drugs and alcohol. My grandfather was my role model, he inspired me to pursue higher education. When I became a mother during high school, I was determined to continue pursuing my education. After graduating from high school, I worked for two years at a swap meet. Then in 2014 I began to attend East Los Angeles College (ELAC). In the spring of 2016, I earned three Associates Degrees in Administration of Justice, Political Science, and General Studies.

Were you involved in any activities on campus of within the community?

Upon transferring to UCLA, I had the opportunity to intern with Community Coalition, a nonprofit organization in South Los Angeles that engages young people to vote and to be engaged in the political process. In this role, I reached out to elementary, middle and high school students and encouraged voting around my neighborhood. This school year, I was tutoring students of color from low-income households at Koreatown Youth & Community Center (KYCC). As a part of this commitment, I served as a peer-mentor for the John Delloro Social Justice Transfer Program at ELAC to emphasize and demonstrate the need for more first-generation students of color to transfer to four-year institutions. I have also been very involved in my son’s elementary school. I’m the President of the Parent Council at Manchester Elementary School, where I organize the budget and meetings. This year, I also had the honor of becoming a UCLA Law Fellow.

What challenges have you faced while pursuing higher education?

I can’t relate to a lot of students. I have lot of commitments to balance besides school and work. I need to also balance being a mother, family obligations, and my involvement in my son’s education.

How have you handled being a mother and pursuing higher education?

Mental strength and being surrounded by people who love me. This has motivated me to do the best I can for my son.

You were a student worker at the UCLA Labor Center. What kind of work did you complete there?

I was a student programming assistant and administrative assistant for the Dream Resource Center.  In these roles, I supported events, searched for beneficial opportunities for students, developed newsletters, and helped with the logistics of the Dream Summer Fellowship.

Why was your work at the UCLA Labor Center important?

A lot of students have more than enough pressure with their school work so I felt my work was important because I was doing research to make them aware of the extracurricular opportunities available for them.

What did you enjoy about working at the UCLA Labor Center?

I enjoyed that there was always something different to work on, and there is always different events happening to take part of. It was a great atmosphere to work in – I enjoyed working with people with the same social justice mentality.

What is your favorite Labor Center memory?

My favorite memory at the Labor Center was when Senator Kamala Harris came for a roundtable on DACA and immigration. I felt very inspired and empowered to meet a woman of color in politics.

What was your favorite Labor Studies minor course?

My favorite Labor Studies class was a law class I took with Professor Noah Zatz. The class centered on race, the criminal justice system, the limitations that come with criminal records and solutions such as “Ban the Box”. These topics were of great interest to me given the community I grew up in. I appreciated the fact that Professor Zatz knows his privilege and was conscious of this in the way he designed the course and framed discussion about the topic.

Who or what inspires you?

My mentor, Pavitee Peumsang has been very inspiring and motivating to me. I met her through a program at ELAC , the John Delloro for Social Justice Transfer Program. I became close to her and learned she came to the US undocumented and still persevered. She’s completing her doctoral degree in December. She’s the reason I’m at UCLA. I was thinking about going to a local Cal State but Pavitee encouraged me to apply to UC’s. She told me she wanted to see more women of color there.

What are you doing after graduation?

Over the summer and fall, I will be studying for the LSAT and applying to law school. I will also be serving as a mentor for the John Delloro for Social Justice Transfer Program and working as a Community Service Officer for Southgate Police Department.

What is your dream job?

After law school, I aspire to become a juvenile defense lawyer and then transition into a position as a juvenile court judge. I am not far removed from the lived reality of gang violence and drug abuse in my community, particularly the factors impacting Black and Brown youth. I want to be in a position to address these factors and bring justice. Ultimately, I want to become a judge in the U.S. Supreme Court.

And finally..what 3 hashtags would describe your time as a Labor Studies Minor at UCLA?

#Community, #Organize, #ActivistScholar

Learn more about the Labor Studies Program.