LINCOLN PARK — Yasmine Shafaie believes in the power of education.
As a freshman, the current 17-year-old junior at Francis W. Parker School formed a club to raise money for underprivileged kids and create a dialogue around the importance of education with her classmates.
What started out as a conversation with a few friends has grown into a fully formed student-run organization. With the help of family friends, Yasmine created bracelets to raise money for education-related causes.
The bracelets are sold ($15-30) at Parker and at local boutiques like Frankie's On The Park, 2322 N. Clark St., and Crush on Roscoe, 2138 W. Roscoe St. A lotus is etched onto the metal charm because the flower "grows in muddy waters and blossoms unstained," which Yasmine saw as a metaphor for people overcoming obstacles to get an education.
The club also hosts events like one at the end of the March where Forrest Claypool, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, spoke to students about the struggles of CPS. Claypool's daughter attends the private school.
Forrest Claypool speaking to Francis W. Parker students at the end of March. [Courtesy/Power of Education club]
"It's really gained momentum and become popular at Parker," said Yasmine, who has lived in Lincoln Park with her family for most of her life.
About 20 students participate in the club, which is as informative as it is fun. Yasmine screens education-themed documentaries, leads conversations about education in the news and hosts bake sales to raise money and partner with local organizations like the homeless shelter Madonna House, 1114 W. Grace St. She wants to donate to local charter schools and libraries as well.
The Claypool event was Yasmine's proudest moment so far. She said the event was so popular that they had to turn people away.
"It reminded me that education is so important. People actually care," she said.
Yasmine said she owes her love of community service to her grandfather, who was a physician.
"Community service is truly in my genealogy," she said. "I saw the joy [my grandfather] received from his interaction with his patients. It was handed down to my parents, and it was handed down to me."
Going to school at Parker also contributed to her entrepreneurial spirit.
"I feel so lucky in an environment where people want me to succeed," she said. "Certain schools can be very competitive and oppressive. At Parker, they truly encourage you to attack social injustices."
Yasmine doesn't want to stop at local causes, and she's beginning to think of more ways she can make a difference across the world.
"I want to impact more than Chicago. I want to impact more than the United States. I want to go above and beyond with this," she said.
Yasmine will be navigating through the college application process next year. She said she's not sure where she will end up, but she knows she wants to study public policy and economics to make a difference in the world of education.
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