LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 11, 2023) — After years of hard work and determination, Jasmin Keith will graduate from the University of Kentucky this Friday with a bachelor’s degree in information communication technology (ICT) from the College of Communication and Information.
The journey to this moment was not an easy one, as she faced unique challenges along the way. But with the help of her family and faculty and staff at UK, she can now celebrate her remarkable achievements.
Going to UK wasn't part of Keith's original plan. Coming from a military family, the Elizabethtown, Kentucky, native had aspirations of following in her family's footsteps after high school. But when she learned her tuition could be paid in full through the William C. Parker Scholarship, she decided to change her course, and began studies at UK in 2018.
“I have always wanted to go into the military since as long as I could remember, but after I received the full ride, I knew it was where I was supposed to end up,” she said. “Honestly, my family is all military, and had no idea what the scholarship meant, so my mom almost threw the letter out.”
As a UK student, Keith decided to follow her original path while working toward a degree. As a sophomore, she enrolled in the UK Army ROTC and enlisted as a combat medic in the National Guard. She began training in May of 2020.
However, her course shifted when she found out she and her husband were expecting their first child.
“Even though we were so excited for our baby, I had to drop the ROTC program, and it broke my heart,” Keith said.
Another wrench was thrown into her plan in September 2021, when she was active as a full-time medic in the National Guard for a COVID-19 mission to help administer vaccinations. She would travel hundreds of miles each week, while pregnant, to vaccinate people all over Kentucky — and remained a full-time UK student during this time.
On top of that, Keith had to be away from her husband, who is also in the military.
"My husband was at Purdue University, so he was four hours away from me during my pregnancy," she said. "We would see each other when possible, but it wasn't a frequent occurrence. We were both full-time students; he had his ROTC obligations and he had drill one weekend a month. If I wasn't doing homework, traveling or working at the clinic, I was taking a nap. It was challenging, but so worth it."
Keith gave birth to her son in January of 2022.
While finalizing her degree later that year, Keith's life took another change of course, when she learned she was pregnant with her second son. While her husband was back in Kentucky with her this time, their conflicting schedules still posed challenges, as they cared for their young son (with another on the way) while continuing classes.
"When we found out we were pregnant again, I was overjoyed," Keith said. "Babies are such gifts. Being a new mom with my first-born in January of 2022 (while taking 18 credit hours) was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. I knew that if I could get through that, I could get through one final semester of college with my second son. I felt like I was just barely staying afloat, but somehow we managed."
Keith gave birth to her second son in June of 2023.
Determined to graduate, and with the help of online classes, Keith passed her remaining classes and earned a 3.3 overall GPA in the ICT program. She will graduate this Friday during UK's 2023 December Commencement Ceremonies.
Keith credits her family for always lending a helping hand, and the UK faculty and staff that helped her along the way.
“The best part about my experience at UK has been the faculty and staff," she said. "I didn’t like to ask for help, but when I had to ask for an extension, if I had an obligation for the military, they were always so understanding. They want you to succeed.
"Over time, I learned that resilience has to do with one's ability to remain positive in the face of adversity. The greatest weapon you have when combating adversity is your support system. I couldn't have asked for a better support system than the faculty and staff here at UK and my loving family and friends."
Keith also attributes her success to her strong faith.
“For me, graduating college has been nothing short of a blessing,” she said. “God has made something beautiful out of my life, and I intend to take this blessing and spread His message. Through all adversity, you can do anything you set your mind to, especially by remaining in God. We may plan our ways, but the Lord establishes our steps (Proverbs 16:9).”
Looking to the future, Keith hopes to continue her education and pursue a master’s degree in computer science.
Learn more about UK's December 2023 Commencement Ceremonies at https://commencement.uky.edu.
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