SHAWNEE — Growing up, Jasmine Robinson was on a constant search for new challenges.
She pushed herself physically, first as a young gymnast, which didn't last long once she found soccer. She added basketball into junior high when she discovered volleyball and track.
And she pushed herself mentally, with the encouragement of her parents, Tyrone and Wanda Robinson. They constantly found ways to stimulate Jasmine's mind, and her continuous drive for knowledge — a quality the Robinsons began to notice in Jasmine very early.
“I have notes I made when she was a baby, and she was very intense and very determined. That was just her personality,” Wanda Robinson said. “We just prayed that God would direct us in the right direction, then she could do something with that determination.
“We tried to expose her to different experiences — take her to the library and cultural things around town, reading to her.”
All of that exposure, both from the academic and athletic realms, gave Jasmine plenty of options to exercise her determined spirit.
By ninth grade, Jasmine had found the academic and extracurricular activities she enjoyed most — actually, a few too many.
She was playing basketball and volleyball, and running track. She played the saxophone in band, became heavily involved in her church youth group and sang in the choir.
“That was a little too much,” Robinson said with a laugh. “So I dropped basketball and band.”
Over the last three years of high school, she continued to excel in everything else she attempted, athletically and academically. She became a class valedictorian at Shawnee High School, and scored a 29 on the ACT. As a senior, she completed 18 college hours concurrently at Oklahoma Baptist, while also taking classes at the Shawnee branch of the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics.
Robinson helped the Wolves' volleyball team to two straight Class 5A state tournaments. And she won five gold medals in hurdle and relay events with the track team that won a state title and never finished worse than second the last three years.
Selected as The Oklahoman's female Scholar-Athlete award winner, Robinson continually displayed the characteristics that embody a true student-athlete.
“Between volleyball and track, she had a lot of bus trips, overnight trips, and she was always working on her school work,” track coach Scott Wilkinson said. “Not only that, she was also a tutor and a mentor to other girls on the team. She showed them the right way to do things, or helped if they needed help with something.
“She had to juggle a lot of things in her high school career, and she always found a way to make it happen.”
As self-motivated as she was, Robinson had outside help to push her as well — particularly big brother Jordan.
“He would just antagonize her,” Wanda said with a laugh. “He wouldn't play games with her unless she would solve math problems first. He was tough on her, but he really helped her.”
A state champion in both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles during her career, Jasmine could have pursued a track scholarship and would have found her way to a top-notch program. Her volleyball skills likely would have provided the same outcome.
But education came first, which is why she sought an opportunity at an Ivy League school. With Cornell offering a chance to play volleyball as well, it seemed like an ideal situation.
For some, athletics provide a release, a way to expend the pent-up energy that is the result of intense academic work.
For Robinson, volleyball and track were the opposite.
“Athletics are relaxing,” she said. “I can fall back into patterns of things I know how to do, familiar things. You can focus in when you play sports, and you're using muscle memory, instead of learning new vocabulary terms every week. It's a nice break from work.”
Robinson has an ultimate goal of pursuing a career in the medical field, and based on past performance, it's unlikely anyone who knows her will be shocked to see her succeed.
“Based on her focus, abilities and her work ethic, Jasmine is one of the top 10 students I have encountered in over a decade of teaching science and mathematics to high school and university students,” said OSSM professor Heather Voss.