Jasmine Mans Named to Glamour’s Top
Ten College Women:
Following the Passion
Jasmine Mans, a UW First Wave scholar, is publishing
her first book of poetry, The Chalk Outlines of Snow
Angels, on May 17
kinds of peanut butter and she had them in stores around the country. They are the Top Ten because they didn’t let college affect their
passion. They didn’t go to college to find a passion. They are just girls who genuinely love a gift that God gave them and they pursued
it at every means necessary. One of them is a part of The West Side Story cast from Broadway. And all of these girls are between the
ages of 19-21. Some of them are young girls of color. It shows you what girl power really is. I’m so happy to sit amongst them because
we all have one thing in common. We genuinely know our passion and nothing, no one, can take that away from us.”

Mans has had a passion for poetry and expressing herself for almost as long as she can remember, starting with writing in a little red
notebook as a little girl and reading her poetry to her mother in Newark, New Jersey where she grew up. And she attracted the
attention of her uncle, Williams Mans who was a contemporary of the great African American poet Amiri Baraka.

William Mans took Jasmine under his wing.

“He would make me write and perform in front of the family,” Mans said. “He would always put me on the spot and make freestyle. He
would say a line and I would say a line. Then I really got into it. I always wrote when I was in high school. I had a love for Black
history. I remember going to the library and going to the Black history section and consuming as many books as I could. I would watch
my friends get Junie B. Jones books. I remember letting my teacher hear that and she told me I was a good writer.”

In high school, she met her second mentor, Halim Suliman, a substitute teacher who was disrespected by the students until he got up
on stage and performed. He connected.

“Everyone was like, ‘Oh, he is so dope,’” Mans said. “After class, I said, ‘I write poems too. Can you listen to some of my poems?’ He
told me yes and made me join the speech and debate team. I remember one day him asking me, ‘Is William Mans your uncle? You
guys have the same last name. He was my best friend.’ It seemed like a blessing because these two men in my life who really
instilled poetry in me were connected in some way. I knew at that moment that I was positioned in the right place to continue pursuing
what was to be my God-given gift. They connected through me. You can tell how God works because at this time, my uncle was
getting sick and he wasn’t as prominent in my life and art anymore. And then Halim Suliman was. Halim Suliman really took over and
made sure that I was practicing and I was speaking and I was writing. Halim Suliman used to tell me, ‘Me, your uncle and Amiri
Baraka would protest together, we would go to jail together and we would write together all the time.’ My uncle who passed away
was Amiri Baraka’s lawyer. When those two men died, I had the work of Amiri Baraka, which kind of saved me.”

Mans attended Arts High School in Newark and participated in arts programs like Urban Word NYC, a literacy arts program in New
York City. Mans did a lot of spoken word, poetry and art at the school, which also prepared its students for higher education. As
everyone was selecting where they would go to college, Mans was trying to figure out what she wanted to get out of college. And then
she learned about First Wave.

“My mentors said I should look at the First Wave program, which is a program that accepts a cohort of 15 students a year, students
who perform and contribute to the five elements of hip hop,” Mans said. “They told me I could get a scholarship for writing. It seemed
a little surreal that I could get a scholarship just for the poems that I write. I decided to give it a shot. What could I lose? I went to
workshops and filled out the application. I sent in writing samples. I remember one day I was sitting in my history class — I will never

By Jonathan Gramling

Part 1 of 2

When she was named as one of Glamour magazine’s 2012 Top Ten
College Women, Jasmine Mans, a UW-Madison First Wave scholar,
was almost in a state of disbelief when she read the bios of the
women who had been honored.

“I was reading these girls’ bios and what do you mean that you have
a bag that is in Sax’s Fifth Avenue and all of the proceeds from the
sales of this bag go to children with terminal illnesses,” Mans said
during an interview with The Capital City Hues. “One of the girls in
Glamour, if you buy this one bag for $85,  you contribute to playrooms
in hospitals for children with terminal illnesses. One of the girls went
to a Native American reservation and she is working to transform
their health care system and making sure they have food and clothing.
One of the girls started a peanut butter company. She creates new
forget this — and my mentor Michael Swerele called me. I ran to the
bathroom on the second floor of my high school. He said, ‘You got a
scholarship into First Wave.’ My parents didn’t believe it and said,
‘We’ll believe it when we see the paperwork.’ I think a week and a
half later, the paperwork came and said that I had a full ride to the
University of Wisconsin, which was scary because I didn’t know
anything about Wisconsin.

“I didn’t care about Wisconsin until I heard about First Wave. No Black
kid from the East Coast, from the city is going to willingly jump up and
say, ‘I want to go to Wisconsin.’ But it offered me something that no
other university was offering me: a chance to not only get educated for
free, but also to get educated at one of the best universities in the
country as well as performing what I love the most, which is art. It’s a
blessing. It is still a surprise. It is still surreal, but it is a clear
example that when you really have a passion for something and
believe in something, it will take you everywhere you need to go.”

Mans feels blessed the way her life has turned out so far although
both William Mans and Halim Suliman passed away before she got to
college. But the gift that they gave her continues to reside within her.

“They created me because at any point, they could have been doing
something different,” Mans said. “But for some reason, each of them
decided that it was of some importance to take this little Black girl
under their wing and make sure that I excelled and I could speak well
and I could write well. That meant something to them. I am so grateful;
for that. You come across a lot of students or people who don’t know
what their real passion is. A lot of students are in class and getting
the best grades you can imagine. But when you sit down and ask them
what they think they are made for, they can’t answer that. At an early
age, I was able to answer that. So I am definitely blessed.”

Next issue: The creative process of Jasmine Mans
Whitney Houston
by Jasmine Mans

My fairy Godmother died today
Heard the Holy Ghost hummed a note that called
for her soul
Made me believe that Cinderella could be a brown
girl
With a chance at forever
If she had a little faith
And some measuring tape

Whitney, voice with strength like a wooden Baptist
church pew
With back pockets holding the bibles of some men
Who would get up and leave you
But find an early Sunday morning to come back
for them
With a New Hope that the could revolutionize a
ghetto
Turn a pumpkin into a chariot

Is Jesus a smiling man,
Who has jokes for all of give scars?
Who loves you, this we know
Who could look at you naked, ugly, and barren?
And still think that you are to die for

Planted you in the dreams of every black girl
With a fairytale in her heart
And a prayer stumbling up the stairs of her throat
With no proof that anyone could hear