Jazzmyne Washington — a freshman who receives a Lois and James Champy Scholarship — says: “Recently, I met Lois Champy, who told me: ‘You’re at MIT, and you’ve earned it. I believe in you.’
“Her support was so inspiring. She’s been through MIT and knows how challenging it can be. That emotional and financial support helps keep me motivated.”
Washington breezed through high school in Kenosha, Wisconsin, not needing to study much to get good grades. She zoomed through Dickens and Shakespeare. Later, she participated in programs at the University of Wisconsin; and fluent in Spanish, she studied in a bilingual program for 11 years. “But I never thought about applying to MIT,” she says.
Then at age 16, she spotted a flyer for MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES), a rigorous six-week summer program for high school juniors interested in careers in science, engineering, and entrepreneurship. She flew east that summer to participate in the program.
“For the first time in my life, I was challenged and loved having to push myself,” she says. “It was the hardest six weeks of my life, but it was great. It inspired me to apply to MIT.”
Now, Washington plans to double major in management and economics and one day hopes to launch a company in a Spanish-speaking country. This fall, she plans to study Chinese, too. “I want to use my language skills to help break down barriers among people,” she says.
Washington says that a scholarship has helped give her the financial and academic freedom to bring her dreams to pass.
“Without it, the tuition would be a big financial burden for my mother. The gift means a lot because I can focus on my academics, and not have to work all hours to cover expenses. And I can focus not only on academics, but also on extracurricular activities. Social development is a big part of college, too,” says Washington, adding that she counts herself lucky to now have time to serve as secretary of the MIT Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers; freshman representative of the MIT Black Women’s Alliance; and a member of MIT’s Black Students’ Union.
Generosity to her, she says, has influenced her to be generous to others.
“It has made me more kind. My new thing is I offer to help other students with work in the classroom. I want to help give them the same encouragement that has been given me. I’ve learned that being able to help someone else is really a privilege.”