An Airman with many talents

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jaeda Tookes
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs
1st Lt. Jasmine Paul, 341st Operations Support Squadron, utilizes her many talents to improve the world around her, including writing a memoir and starting a nonprofit organization to benefit high school seniors searching for college education.

Paul was born and raised in Dover, Delaware, as a first generation American citizen. Her mother is from Barbados and her father from Trinidad. Both of her parents moved to the United States and joined the military to have a better life for their children.

"They're my inspiration, I look up to them," said Paul. "A lot about me is my family and my faith."

Paul started her military journey in 2012, commissioning into the Air Force through ROTC. She majored in film, and graduated early to start her master's degree in entrepreneurship from Oklahoma State University.

Paul was very active in college - running track, being a part of a sorority and even learning to speak Japanese and Arabic. But for Paul graduation almost didn't happen.

"I still remember my mom calling me freshman year and telling me to come home because we couldn't afford it," said Paul. "I told my mom I wasn't coming home until I finished my degree. I prayed and she prayed for an answer."

The following semester, the commander at her Reserve Officers' Training Corps detachment informed Paul she had a full scholarship.

Today Paul is an intercontinental ballistic missile combat crew instructor stationed at Malmstrom.

Twenty years in the military is the plan now for Paul, but she finds it changes every year.

"Things happen in life, and I don't want to be that person glued to a solid plan this early," said Paul. "I believe there are some things in life that happen, but you have to be flexible."

Paul was given a once in a lifetime opportunity to administer the Oath of Enlistment to her mother when she made the rank of master sergeant.

"People in the crowd were like, 'you outrank your mom,' and I was like 'yes, but not really,"' said Paul. "She is still mom number one."

Although about to move to another base, Paul's goals and aspirations remain the same.

While in college, Paul interned with Michele Byrd-Mcphee, executive director and founder of the Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival and directing co-founder of the Montazh Performing Arts Company, and mentor to Paul.

According to Paul, Byrd-McPhee would fly her from North Carolina, where Paul was attending school, to New York to help with the dance studio.

"I want to be able to do that for young people," said Paul. "All it takes is for someone to care, and that could just change their whole outlook on life."

According to Paul, senior year of college she did not have any money. She had scholarships, but did not realize she had to pay rent along with electricity, water and gas.

"I ended up living in my car for two months," said Paul. "I would either be in my car or on someone's couch."

One of Paul's friends told her to come live with her in a four-bedroom house for only $200 with rent and utilities included.

"That's what I needed," said Paul. "It was a struggle, but now looking back I am glad I went through that. I appreciate all the things I have, and take nothing for granted."

Paul plans to open a nonprofit organization for young kids called "Where to Start." According to Paul, the idea behind it is to give high school seniors about to graduate a foundation of what to do, who to look to or where to go next.

"I have been thinking and praying about starting "Where to Start" in Delaware," said Paul. "I am from there, and I know the mindset. I want to be able to encourage (future generations) to do better."

Some young people are never taught how to manage money, budget it or even invest it.

Paul learned about how to manage money from her father, "I always thought he was cheap growing up, but I also didn't pay attention to what he was saying either," said Paul.

It wasn't until Paul was much older, that she started managing her money better. She was $40,000 in debt and paid it off in a year and a half. 

"You don't have to be a slave to the dollar, you can invest in yourself," said Paul. "It is more than just dollars and figures, you have to get to the root of the problem."

Paul started a financial trial run three months ago with three lieutenants in her squadron. According to Paul, one of the lieutenants has $25,000 in debt, and will pay it all off this year.

"It's possible, you just have to change your mindset toward money," said Paul.

Paul wrote a book in the works of being published called, "Peace Differed," because she felt like people were trying to differ her peace. According to Paul, the book started as a resource for young high school seniors trying to get scholarships and find resources for internships.

In high school, Paul was a "B" student, and was treated differently than the other students with better grades. When time came for Paul to go to college, she was sent through hoops.

Paul was told she should try cosmetology school or community college.

"I struggled finding resources and help for college," said Paul. "I wanted to write a book, because it is okay if society labels you as average, but you don't have to put yourself in that box.

"Even though you are not in the best place, it does not mean that is where you are going to stay," she continued. "I just hope to inspire and encourage (others), so they won't have to go through what I went through."