Q: Jasmin, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? How long have you lived in L.A.?
A: I’m an L.A. native and grew up in Highland Park, starting at the age of 5. I haven’t bumped into Billie Eilish yet (HLP is her hometown!) BUT I have probably eaten at the same restaurants she has, so there’s that! I’m a proud Salvadoran and love to learn about my roots through my mother’s stories. Also, I think this is a perfect moment to say that if you haven’t tried pupusas or horchata, you must! I graduated from UCR with a degree in Sociology/Business Administration and now work in the non-profit sector.I just had my 6 year anniversary working with Camp!
Q: Jasmin, you were an attendee yourself at CAMP and a childhood cancer survivor. What has your experience been like, beginning your journey to Camp as a camper to now working for Camp to help so many children have the same life-changing experience that you had?
A: Oh wow, if I could describe it in almost one word I’d say ever-growing. So much of me has changed, developed, and improved throughout the years. I started at Camp at just 13 years-old and I’m now 27, so there’s definitely been quite some learning. First off, I started as a teen and during that time of life, most people are focused on image, dealing with new changes, and being confused all at the same time. Shoot, the reason I even took so long to decide to go to Camp was because I at least wanted my hair to grow back fully to look normal when I did go.
I was very shy and timid, but somehow was inspired to get up on stage to sing a John Legend song with my cabin mates in front of the ENTIRE Camp-who am I?! It was the people and Camp culture that made me feel that I could do absolutely anything and everything. They encouraged me, lifted me up, and sparked such joy in my life within a couple days! It was bittersweet to realize that I only had four summers left, but found comfort in the hopes of returning as a counselor. I knew I wanted to inspire, motivate, remind campers of what they are capable of, and pour such unconditional love just like my counselors did with me.
I returned as a counselor in 2015 shortly after interning with Camp for two summers. I found myself hugging the same counselors who had welcomed me as a camper with such open arms and I felt a new sense of purpose. After being a cabin counselor to some inspiring young girls, my fire and passion for our mission was amplified. They left such an imprint on my life, truly. I’ll never forget the moment when one of my girls came up to me and was worried that her hair would not cover her entire eye during the dance. She had just had surgery. I reminded her that she looked gorgeous that night and expressed how proud I was of her for wanting to go to the dance in the first place. The moment she stepped on the dance floor, she tied her hair up and smiled at me confidently from a distance. I almost cried and took a mental picture to capture such a special moment. I was excited to begin my new role with Camp to ensure that every camper and family member could have a moment like she did, even if it was for a second. It became super important to me that families knew we were there to support them every step of the way. All that I’ve learned has changed and shaped who I want to be and the impact I would like to leave in this world. Our community is everything to me and I’m so grateful.
Q: Jasmin, did you decide to join Camp solely because of your experience as a camper?
A: Definitely not, but it has played a key role in shaping who I am today. As I mentioned earlier, I studied business in college and all that was on my mind after graduation was working for a Fortune 500 company - Amazon, Apple, Coca- Cola, UPS, you name it! Never in a million years did I think I would work for the place that gave me so much, let alone that I would be interviewed by the Program Director who had known me since I was 13! I get chills just thinking about it. After my internship with Camp my entire perspective changed. I think it comes down to that saying “you’re exactly where you need to be.” It’s very fitting and makes complete sense now.
Q: What piece of advice would you give to a camper going through what you experienced or to a family member/friends with someone close to them battling cancer?
A: Never feel that you are alone or feel guilty about what you are enduring. Ever. You are not alone. There’s an army of people ready to support you and pour into you because you deserve it.
Q: What is about Camp that is so healing for patients, siblings and parents?
A: It’s just a really safe space for everyone. A place where there’s openness, respect, understanding, fun, pure genuine connections, and the feeling of home all in one. Where vulnerability is free to roam and the sky is the limit. It’s truly one-of-a-kind