Graduating college is an achievement worth celebrating. The dedication it takes to get across that finish line and collect a diploma is something we can all recognize as worthy of recognition.
The journey to the stage is different for everyone. Some are the first in their families to graduate from college, while others have physical disabilities that stand in the way. 20 year old Jazmin Hall has both of those obstacles, but she didn’t let either slow her down.
Hall is one of the seniors graduating from Klamath Community College Friday night. She will graduate with associate’s degrees in accounting and business management, and she’s not done yet. Her next stop is Portland State University, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
Hall was born and raised in Klamath Falls. She had a more difficult path in life than most from the very start. She was born dead, but was resuscitated. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and asthma.
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that inhibits the ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Hall had to wear braces on her legs to help her walk.
“I hated wearing the braces, but I loved when they were being made,” she said. She remembers trips to Medford and Portland to get leg braces. She said the fitting process was interesting and she enjoyed choosing the patterns.
A playground fall in first grade led to an MRI which revealed she had epilepsy. Unlike her peers, she couldn’t participate in physical activities, which made it tough, coming from a sports-loving family.
“I was the only kid out of the four of us not to play any sports,” she said.
While describing her time in school when she was younger, she doesn’t focus on the times when she felt like she didn’t fit in or the couple of times that other kids made fun of her. Instead, she talks about her friends in school and how they made her feel included.
“I was different but they made sure I didn’t feel that way,” she said. “They boosted my confidence.”
Although Hall is incredibly positive now, things were not always so rosy. She describes a time in eighth grade when she struggled with depression and was pulled out of school to be home-schooled for half the year.
“There were times when I got really down. I thought, ‘why can’t I be like everyone else?’ it seemed like if it wasn’t one thing, it was another,” she said.
She said her school friends kept in contact with her and her family continued to show her support in that time. Now, whenever she feels down, she said her faith helps her remain positive.
“I believe that God didn’t give me more than I can handle,” she said. “I think I have these disabilities for a reason. I may not know exactly why, but I think it was meant to help me and possibly other people too.”
Hall has given several talks about her story, and thinks one day she may want to be a motivational speaker.
“I want to be known for helping people. Whether it’s now or later,” she said.
Hall said she feels tremendous gratitude to her family for their support and love. She described her parents and three siblings as being incredibly close, and said her parents would do anything for their children.
“My mom says we’re all spoiled — we are,” she laughed.
She remarked on how much time her parents dedicated to taking her to doctors appointments, and how they always motivated her to go to speech and physical therapy, even when she didn’t want to go.
Hall attended both speech and physical therapy between the ages of 2 and 14, and recently started going again last year.
She said her younger siblings are a big motivator for her to achieve her academic goals.
“I want to show my siblings that if I can do it, you can do it,” she said.
She said like the rest of her family, she is a huge sports fan — especially basketball.
“I always say if I would have played I would have been in the WNBA by now,” she laughed. She said she never missed a game that one of her siblings is playing in.
“I’m their number one cheerleader,” she said.
Hall said because she couldn’t pursue sports, she dedicated herself to achieving in school. She was in Future Business Leaders of America in high school and went to the finals for job interviewing twice in a row.
Hall said she has always loved math. This led her to pursue accounting. She hopes to be an accountant at a nonprofit organization after college.
Hall looks forward to attending PSU in the fall. She said originally, she wanted to attend a four-year university right away, but now is very happy she attended KCC. She said she received a lot of support there and met great people.
Now, she’s eager for a new adventure in a new city.
“A lot of people say it’s going to be a culture shock — that’s exactly what I want!” she joked.