Cal State L.A. student savoring research experience
Jones receives apprenticeship to conduct community project in local neighborhoods
Jazmine Jones, a Cal State L.A. senior, has been spending this quarter venturing out into the city of Monterey Park and the historic Filipino town of El Sereno looking for bok choy and winter melons, which are Chinese vegetables.
Even though she does love eating Chinese food, she’s not actually looking for restaurants where she can savor these veggie dishes.
She is exploring the delivery of sustainably-grown and culturally-relevant produce to those who lack access to these fresh goods.
“For several weeks I have been visiting local neighborhoods to detect food deserts common in minority and low-income communities and analyzing the possibilities for more affordable and healthier produce,” Jones explained.
Jones was one of two Cal State L.A. students recently selected by Professor Ping Yao for an apprenticeship to evaluate “Culturally Relevant Produce and Community Supported Agriculture for Asian Americans.”
The research aims to bring more awareness of local farmer markets to the communities in order to support the urban growers of fruits and vegetables.
“Jazmine is teaming up with a group of service-learning students in my Asian American History class, who are working with the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance to get culturally-relevant produce into the API communities, to support local small businesses, and cut down on carbon emissions,” explained Professor Yao.
An Asian and Asian American studies major with triple minors in Chinese, Communication studies and Pan African Studies, Jones has always been interested in different cultures as she grew up in Los Angeles.
“I enjoy exploring the diverse communities of color. It is important to understand each other, help each other grow and support our own communities,” said Jones, who attended Pacific Hills School in West Hollywood. “I cherish all of my friends who are of different ethnic backgrounds.”
Jones and her friends like hanging out at eateries and trying a variety of food.
However, Jones has acquired the taste for Chinese food, especially after she studied Chinese language for a year at Peking University through a Wang Family Scholarship and a Gilman Scholarship.
“When I was in China, I discovered some regional delicacies, such as sweet baked breads, meat rolls, deep fried silk squash, and beef chops, which are quite delicious,” said Jones.
The following year, Jones had the opportunity to study communications at the Uppsala University in Sweden through the CSU International Programs. Besides delighting in Swedish cuisine, she was able to learn more about the people, traditions, government and history there.
“It was great to be able to travel abroad to study in different countries and to obtain a more universal perspective,” she said. “Oh, and not to mention, all the good food!”
To develop an even better understanding of other populations, she also served as a delegate of Cal State L.A.’s Model United Nations team in 2012, representing the Kingdom of Belgium. The delegation received honorable mention during that year’s National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference in New York.
“The experience opened my eyes to the complexity of the United Nations,” said Jones. “It also gave me a greater appreciation for international relations.”
On campus, she also frequently participates in the Cross Cultural Centers activities while working part-time in the University’s Annual Fund office.
In the community, she has volunteered to feed the homeless and to help build homes through Habitat for Humanity. She is also a member of the Golden Key honor society and the San Diego Diplomacy Council.
“It is essential to give back to the community as we are all citizens of the world,” said Jones, who will graduate this June and pursue a master’s degree in ethnic studies. “My ultimate goal is to attain a career where I can help others and make a difference globally.”