The Winter issue of The Blue & White is on campus now! It’s also on our website, theblueandwhite.org. Look for it in Lerner and Butler. Here, contributor Somer Omar profiles Jasmine Sudarkasa, a Campus Character.
If you have not yet met Jasmine Sudarkasa, know that she wants to meet you. She thrives on being surrounded by people, and confesses, almost apologetically, “I need to be constantly stimulated.” Such dedication to relationships especially stands out at Columbia, where people notoriously shy away from waving to one another on College Walk. “Being caring doesn’t take anything from you,” she urges.
What’s most striking about Sudarkasa’s undertakings, from her involvement with the Black Theater Ensemble to her downtown fundraising position at Theatre for the New City, is the extent to which she takes them personally. “I’m very careful about what I invest in, because if I like it I’m going to be about it forever.” And in spite of her individual conviction, her activities share in common a commitment to other people. “I just want people to be happy!” she affirms constantly. Indeed, nothing Sudarkasa does is solitary, and she remains firmly committed to the idea that community is “our biggest untapped resource.”
Growing up, Jasmine struggled to find like-minded peers. Although you’d never guess from her accent, at seven years old Jasmine and her family left the US for South Africa, arriving less than five years after the official end of apartheid. After a contemplative pause—the only one of our entire interview—she describes the transition as “jarring.” Many of her classmates weren’t used to seeing people of color, and she felt discouraged from being as vivacious and loud as she could be at home. Needless to say, New York City was a welcome change.
Morgan Owens, CC ‘13, met Jasmine at a South Florida meet-up for admitted Columbia students the summer before freshman year, and they’ve remained close ever since. Having not seen Jasmine again until move-in day, Morgan remembers “with just one panicked phone call she helped me move in all of my boxes.” Tiffany Rodriguez, BC ‘13 recalls another memorable first impression: “we just ate corn nuts with a huge bag of watermelon Sour Patch…and sat on Low talking for four hours.”
While Sudarkasa may appear spontaneous, theres a certain degree of preemptive calculation she contemplates before fully committing to anything. She has to be energy-efficient in order to keep up with all her engagements. According to Alex Lopez, CC ‘14, “This girl knows how to go hard but also has her shit together.”
Jasmine is also firmly committed to sisterhood as a member of Delta Sigma Theta, the same sorority her grandmother had joined before her. “The collective power of women is so fantastic…we have such depth of vision,” she exclaims.
A self-described “second grader still sharing pencils and trying to get people to play with me,” Jasmine humbly avoids a more sophisticated self-analysis to describe her accomplishments, though at other times, she speaks with an academic fluency, as if she had two entirely separate vocabularies. At one moment silly and cheerful, Jamine will then surprise you with a serious discussion of the reciprocity of her majors: Political Science and Comparative Ethnic Studies. She first chose CSER, and then realized that “you have to have perspective…in a lot of these more stratified disciplines, it’s easy to check out. You have to contextualize.”
Owens describes her friend as “intimidating with her exhaustive vocabulary…yet she has a softness to her,” which is apparent from first meeting. Jasmine insists I return to make cookies. “I’m serious about the baking,” she concludes.