High School Valedictorian Overcomes Challenges, Including Losing Home In Fire

Despite experiencing homelessness at the beginning of high school, a 17-year-old named Jasmine is now poised to graduate as the valedictorian of her class.

Her inspiring story is one of resilience and unwavering determination. In 2018, Jasmine and her family lost their home and all their possessions to a devastating fire.

Fast forward four years, and Jasmine is graduating at the top of her class as the valedictorian, boasting an impressive 8.07-grade point average.

"I think going through all of this has led me to want to persevere and want to show little girls or boys my age that they can do it too," the 17-year-old shared.

Mazard-Larry's dedication to her academics was evident in her enrollment in a range of rigorous courses, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses, dual credit courses, and the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education.

These courses significantly contributed to her impressive GPA.

In addition to her academic achievements, Mazard-Larry will be receiving an associate's degree from a local community college before receiving her high school diploma from Patel High School next week.

Mazard-Larry's commitment extended beyond the classroom, as she actively participated in various extracurricular activities such as the student government association, student council, speech and debate team, and art club.

"She's really taken the initiative to go above and beyond. She had this goal of being top in her class, and ultimately she met it," Patel High School Principal Marlee Strawn said.

It was four years ago when Jasmine and her family lost their home to a devastating fire.

At the time of the fire, Mazard-Larry's mother, Nidta Mazard, was nine months pregnant, while her father sustained severe injuries.

Shortly after the fire, Mazard-Larry's baby brother, Marlo, was born.

However, there were severe complications, and her mother, Nidta, nearly lost her life during the birth.

"Marlo is my motivation," she said referring to her little brother.

"I want to be a role model for him. After my mother and father almost passed away, seeing my brother allowed me to get that drive."

Her mother Nidta Mazard shared: "And here Jasmine, in the midst of it all, her behavior could have changed because of a lot of things that she was already going through."

"But instead, she used that as a light to help me because I almost died giving birth to my son."

"She's been my light. She's been my rock. I just love her so much because she's inspired me to be a better mother and a better person." Mazard praised her.

Marlee Strawn remembered the resilience shown by Mazard-Larry in the aftermath of the fire.

"She dealt with a really difficult situation, and she didn't allow it to stop her from meeting her goals. I think that's really remarkable, and she was just very goal-driven from day one." the principal explained.

Mazard-Larry stated that her academic workload has kept her occupied but also productive.

"I think that's very important as I grow older to learn how to balance work life, personal life, watching my brother when my mom's working and just helping around," she said.

Mazard-Larry faced several obstacles on her journey, including ADHD and hearing loss, which she initially perceived as weaknesses, despite her impressive accomplishments.

"I was a little embarrassed," she expressed. "I didn't really talk about it that much to a lot of people."

Upon reflecting on her academic journey, Mazard-Larry acknowledged that her disabilities, ADHD and hearing loss, helped her to develop perseverance and resilience.

"They're not setbacks. They allowed me to be who I am today," she said.

Mazard-Larry has expressed her plans to attend college and pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.

"We all have our own story. There's the good and the bad. But don't overlook the bad because it makes you who you are. In 20 or 10 years from now, you're going to look back and be like, I did that. I conquered all of these obstacles, and here I am today." she concluded.