Jasmine Passa graduated from Denison in 2015 with a major in political science. As an undergraduate, she received the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study peace and conflict with the SIT Balkans Program, and also performed an independent research project in Mitrovica, Kosovo.
With the help of the Lisska Center, Passa received a Critical Language Scholarship to study Urdu in Lucknow, India, in the summer of 2015. Living and studying alongside an academically diverse American cohort, she learned about the diversity of careers that can intersect with languages and culture. CLS exposed her to Urdu's rich poetry culture and historical Qawali music she would not otherwise experience first-hand if learning the language in the US.
In 2016, Passa won a Fulbright scholarship to Serbia to teach English, where she also explored dance and served as an Urdu translator for the refugee and migrant crisis. In her lessons, she replicated Denison's critical thinking discussion approach with her Serbian students. She loved to challenge her students about topics such as politics, government, and culture in order to build critical thinking skills.
After accepting grants from the CLS Alumni Development Fund and the Awesome Innovation in Libraries Foundation (which she was connected to through Denison Libraries), Passa launched the Daira-e-Ilm Library for Refugees and Migrants in Belgrade, Serbia. The library provides refugees and migrants with free access to books in Urdu, Farsi, Arabic, and Pashto. “For people who are outside of their own educational systems, reading in one's native tongue provides a comfortable respite from cultural integration, faster skills acquisition than English textbooks would provide, and native script learning for children.”
Passa is currently earning her master's degree at the University of Notre Dame's Keough School of Global Affairs.