Jaser overcomes domestic abuse and finds academic success and a voice for women’s empowerment

Participation and leadership on campus helped sculpt biology major Yesmeen Jaser into the person she is today, but Jaser had to overcome great challenges to come to a point of success at Georgia Gwinnett College.

GGC was Jaser’s first choice as a high school graduate who was planning to complete her core classes and transfer to another metro area university. Though life took a turn early into her freshman year when she fell in love, moved to Palestine and got married. The next 12 months were tumultuous as Jaser became a victim of domestic abuse. 

“As my one year anniversary approached, I summoned my courage and returned to my mother in Lawrenceville,” Jaser said. “I was not ready to face life, but my mother convinced me to return to GGC.”

Once re-enrolled in classes, Jaser was depressed and had a poor attitude towards school. Although she was typically punctual to class, she was unwilling to complete important tasks, like homework, and was uninterested in campus involvement. 

Her life changed when a caring professor noticed her pain and took the time to listen to her story. After she had an emotional breakdown in his office, he referred her to the campus’ Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), where she received help for her depression. 

“At the end of the semester I decided to stop by his office and say my goodbyes after my final,” Jaser said of her professor. “As we talked, he mentioned he’d just returned from a conference in New York where he’d heard a quote he wanted to share, ‘there’s nothing more powerful than a woman’s determination for success.’ Right then and there, he changed my life.” 

After that meeting, Jaser began focusing on responsibility, flexibility, time management and campus involvement. She is now vice president of the Muslim Student Association and Greenlight, as well as a student ambassador. She has also been a part of the Sexual Assault Awareness Committee and was voted runner up homecoming queen. 

She also volunteers as a speaker at the domestic abuse/sexual assault event on campus to raise awareness about the prevalence of domestic abuse and to share available resources. 

“I encourage women to stand up and advocate for themselves,” she said.

Jaser is now the chief volunteer at Shifa, a clinic that provides medical aid to the uninsured and supports shelters and resources for the underserved. She plans to graduate in 2021, attend medical school and eventually become a cardio thoracic surgeon. 

“Once I achieve this goal, I want to give back to my parents for their sacrifices for me,” Jaser said. “After fulfilling my parents dream for me, I would like to travel the world and open clinics and hospitals in high poverty areas.

“GGC has been a great adventure,” she continued. “It has given me strength, patience, guidance and a supportive community. I am and I will forever be a Grizzly!”