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A Rookie Playmaker & Mentor in STEM


Fifteen-year old Jazmin Chavez doesn’t waste time – she volunteers it. She started volunteering and mentoring at Third Street Community’s After School Academic Program in 2013, when she was in eighth grade. The San Jose native began attending the program as a second grader to get help with her homework. After she stopped attending the program as a middle school student, she became inspired to continue giving back. She has since logged more than 135 volunteer hours – during the school year, no less. For her efforts, she has been selected as one of five Rookie Playmakers drafted by Levi’s®, in partnership with the 50 Fund, the legacy fund of the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.

Third Street Community Center works to bridge the achievement gap between students of different socioeconomic statuses, promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and encourage and prepare disadvantaged children in San Jose to go to college. The center’s 250 volunteers spend more than 4,500 hours helping with homework and mentoring at the center.

The center is also committed to incorporating STEM education into its programming, encouraging children who may be the first in their families to go to college to also shoot for a degree in engineering or science. Many college students who mentor children at the center are themselves majoring in STEM fields, giving the younger students a real-life role model as well as a sounding board. The Rookie Playmaker grant will support the STEM for Latina Girls Project in order to help young girls like Jazmin discover their inner techie.

“It is a great gateway to expose [young girls and myself] to a new world,” Jazmin said of the program. “As Latinas growing up in downtown San Jose, we do not have a lot of resources or support. This grant can help motivate young girls so they don’t find these fields too intimidating.”

Jazmin’s experience at Third Street Community Center inspired her to think not only about STEM, but also about her future more broadly. She wants that future to include college.

“As a volunteer here, I hope that the kids that I’ve helped do the same, come back and give their time to help their community,” Jazmin said. “I want to be someone who inspires others.”

Her volunteer work is rewarding, but she was particularly thrilled and encouraged to find out she was drafted as a Rookie Playmaker by the Levi’s® brand.

“Being chosen as Rookie Playmaker makes me feel proud of myself,” Jazmin shared. “I would have never expected to be chosen because I thought of myself as any other volunteer/former student at Third Street Community Center.”

“I found out that people believe in me,” she continued. “Now I feel like I am capable of doing more than I think I can. This helped me realize that if I continue trying my best, staying active, giving back to my community, and pushing myself, I will be recognized.”

Jazmin’s activism and community leadership has inspired a lifelong goal of giving back. When asked what legacy she would like to leave on the world, her answer was simple: “The legacy I would want to leave behind — to be someone who helps people not suffer.”

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