PAHOKEE, Fla. — Pahokee Middle Senior High School, Senior, Jasmine Calderon has a lot accolades attached to her name: Student Body President, member of the National Honor Society and Class Valedictorian.
"It means I can realize my dreams," says Calderon.
She also recently became a 2021 Leadership Fellow through Take Stock in Children one of six in the state of Florida.
Others who know her, like one of her best friends Dashley Portal, will likely tell you she’s most proud to be her father’s daughter.
"She’d always have a conversation pop up about her dad or any convo they had or anything," says Portal.
Her friends and teachers like Esteban Cardenas also say COVID-19 crept into the Calderon home last year.
"Jasmine, she was sad like I know it, she was heartbroken but she never let it distract her from her goal and that’s something that’s not easy to do," says Cardenas.
The girl who friends lovingly describe as a "Daddy’s Girl," lost her father to coronavirus complications four days after Father’s day.
Calderon says, "If I had a chance to talk to my Dad one last time I’d just tell him that I love him and that I was grateful for everything all of your sacrifices are what got me here."
Her academic success has been a silver lining to a rough year.
Calderon hopes to continue her higher education studies to Emory University to become an environmental lawyer and return to her Belle Glade community to help provide more diverse job opportunities.
When asked where she gets he motivation Calderon says, "I used to see how my dad carried himself and now that isn’t around to guide me, I’m just trying to make him proud and that’s what I think I’d say has shaped me."
Pushing herself and others to their full potential is a lasting lesson from her father.