Since the age of two, Covenant House Texas youth resident Zasmine has navigated a fragmented upbringing through different foster homes. As she approached “aging out” of foster care in 2020, she made the brave decision to leave a home that was not the right fit and forge her own path in an uncertain world rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Facing homelessness from 18 to 20 years old, Zasmine spent periods of weeks and months in shelters and attempted living with her biological mother for a while. While these short-term solutions did not feel safe enough to stay in, she did rekindle a relationship with her biological grandmother during this time, whom she cared for extensively during an illness.
On a rainy Monday morning, just days into the new year of 2023, she left an abusive relationship feeling alone and unsure of where she would turn next. Resolved to not give up, she reached out to a staffing agency for employment opportunities and found her new home instead. A friendly face that previously helped Zasmine at another shelter directed her to Covenant House Texas, where her journey to overcoming homelessness began.
Now living on campus at 21 years old, Zasmine’s invincible spirit and track record of resilience shine through to the staff and her peers. Her exceptional work ethic propelled her to graduate from high school at the age of 17 and earn community college credits in business management before she faced homelessness. Now, she is setting her sights on a new goal this fall—becoming a nurse.
Deeply touched by her time caring for her grandmother, she vowed to be the change she wants to see in healthcare after her grandmother passed in February. Feeling that doctors and nurses could have done more for her grandmother in her final days, Zasmine is now driven to pursue a career that highlights her natural fondness for caretaking.
“After my grandmother passed, I wanted to be someone that really cares about the health of others,” said Zasmine. “I think it’s an issue that can use more people that really care beyond it being a job.”
In her time at Covenant House Texas, she found a nurturing environment that allows her to be, not yet a clinical caretaker, but an emotional one for some of her peers. She feels the purpose of her own journey to independence while being a rock for her peers. Zasmine also views her new resolve to stay put and work towards her goals as a subtle rebellion against the fight-or-flight response lingering from the hardships of her past.
Zasmine’s empathy for what other young people have experienced while homeless, such as human trafficking, violence and harassment, is apparent as she shares her feelings on being an impromptu role model.
“I feel like a big sister to the other residents. A lot of people come up to me for advice or just to talk,” said Zasmine. “I feel like that also keeps me here and it helps me continue improving myself. Whenever someone is struggling and doesn’t feel comfortable talking to a staff member yet, I try to help them feel safe to do that.”
Zasmine’s proudest moment since coming to Covenant House Texas was participating in the 2023 Night of Broadway Stars event. Standing in solidarity with her peers as they shared their stories and musical talents on stage, she was reminded that they are not defined by their pasts, but rather their inner strength and the futures they work towards.
“I’ve always had a problem staying in one place for a long time because I was never in one stable foster home, but performing with everyone made me feel like I belonged,” said Zasmine. “I’m feeling now like I have a place somewhere.”