1995-2000: Jasmine Dorsey

“This program is the reason I graduated high school.”

I didn’t belong to any crew or group in high school because I always felt so different. I always felt alone because I felt too mature to even have friends in high school. I preferred surrounding myself with adults. These adults taught me things like cigarette smoking and drinking to ease any pain. I was becoming a product of my environment, but I still made sure I stayed in school. 

Before InsideOut, I didn’t even know I could write. I would cry, I would fight or have aggressive behavior whenever I felt misunderstood (which was always). I was facing more than a teenager should. I didn’t have the ability to share my feelings towards being on the brink of losing my grandmother. She was so sick, but always loving. I couldn’t care for her, because I didn’t understand what she was going through. I thought, “How could the most powerful woman be suffering from COPD [Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]?”

When I realized that she was becoming sick to the point of no return, I turned to the outside world and strangers for comfort. It made me so rebellious. I formed habits that my grandparents would’ve never imagined. I started smoking cigarettes, the very thing that had damaged the strongest woman alive. The anger just grew inside of me. I felt myself shifting away from my grandparents. But for some reason I still chose to go to school. It just felt like I was supposed to be there. I guess I never lost my morale when it came to learning. Then one day in my English class, Ms. Bishop introduced a poet from InsideOut to our class, and I found out I could put my feelings on paper.

When I first met Mr. Pete [InsideOut Senior Writer Peter Markus], I didn’t realize that I was meeting my new form of expression. It was through the InsideOut project that I found what makes me tick. I learned to fully explain what I’ve always wanted to say in the form of art. I remember writing about my grandfather as Superman and it being published into a book. This was what it means to belong. This program is the reason I graduated high school. 

The InsideOut program made me realize I could express myself better on paper. It made people stop and actually listen to me. Seeing my writing in a book gave me the confidence to continue writing. I felt like I really was a poet. Every time I think about high school, InsideOut is what stands out to me the most.

I ended up going into the medical field. I got a degree in nursing and ended up working for Henry Ford Hospital. I am a Living Kidney Donor Coordinator. It was at my son Demetrius’s parent teacher conference that I learned that Mr. Pete was actually visiting my son’s class weekly! When I found out, I was so excited. I had been talking about this program with other people, complaining about how times have changed and kids these days not having the same type of mentors as I did. 

I never really had the chance to express to my child who I was in high school until that very moment! It was then that he learned that I had issues expressing myself until I became part of the program. He never knew I used to enjoy writing. All he knew was that his momma graduated high school and went to college. All of this It makes me feel like I need to be writing again. 

***

Jasmine’s son Demetrius shares his thoughts about his mom as a poet, as well as one of his own poems:

“When I learned that my mom was a poet, I was so happy I wanted to become just like her.”