Jazmin Delacruz knew she was supposed to feel disappointed when she received the news during the spring 2016 semester.
After months of rigorous prerequisite courses, the Providence resident had not been accepted into the Community College of Rhode Island’s Nursing program. Delacruz wasn’t disappointed, though. Nursing was never in her heart, and now she had the opportunity to pursue her dream of blending art and psychology to help others.
“Instead of being bitter or sad or anything like that it was more of a relief,” said Delacruz, who was selected as the Class of 2017 student commencement speaker. “I realized I wasn’t doing it because I was passionate about it. I was doing it because it was offered and I felt like it was a nice stable career.”
When she met with CCRI advisers she realized now was the time to return to her dream of using art and psychology to help young children through work as an art therapist.
She secured conditional acceptance to the University of Rhode Island through the Joint Admissions Agreement while she completed her work toward an associate degree in General Studies with a concentration in psychology. After she completes her bachelor’s degree in psychology at URI, she plans to do what she wasn’t ready to do several years ago – pursue a master’s degree in art therapy in a major city.
“So much ambition came into me and I just wanted to do what people never thought I would do. Now in my mindset I’m like, ‘I want a bachelor’s, I want a master’s and I want a career,’” she said. “Obviously leaving here is a little sad because it represents a new start for me. I always thought of CCRI as my little comfort place because everybody is so nice and this is where I made a lot of decisions that will shape my life.”
One of those decisions was to revisit art and psychology.
She has been drawing since she was 6, finding inspiration in everything from Disney princesses to cereal box cartoons. Drawing was always a source of personal joy, and she realized it can bring joy to other people, too.
She fell in love with psychology in her senior year of high school.
“I just like the different aspects of how you can read somebody. A lot of people just think other people are crazy, but there is so much behind all of that,” she said. “The fact that we can try to figure out what is really going on behind it is something that really interests me.”
Delacruz had another aha moment while volunteering at a local home that specializes in helping disabled adults. She saw the impact her arts and crafts activity had on the people she was working with.
“I thought I wanted to do nursing because it helped people, but was really about me using my art to help people,” she said. “I kind of think it’s funny now. My dream was always there, but because I was too scared to follow it, I didn’t realize it.”
Another important turn in her CCRI experience came in 2014, when she landed a job in the CCRI Advising and Counseling Center in Warwick.
Lisa Mallozzi, director of Advising and Counseling, sat down with Delacruz for a routine advising session and ended up offering her a job on the spot.
“She was just one of those students who immediately struck me,” Mallozzi said. “I always look for someone who has a good personality and who will be warm and welcoming. That was a priority, and I knew she would be a perfect fit.”
In the advising center, Delacruz has been a first point of contact for students, many of whom are either new to CCRI or need help with advising.
“She has such an unbelievable personality and she gives us 110 percent. There is a level of commitment and motivation that you don’t see everywhere,” Mallozzi said.
Delacruz said her work in the center helped her meet new friends, develop her communication skills and assist students who were in need of help.
“When I started working there the opportunities just started opening up. I really came out of my shell,” she said.
She has already been offered a part-time position in Advising and Counseling at CCRI’s Liston Campus in Providence.
“Knowing I have the job makes me happy because even though I will be saying goodbye, I won’t be totally gone,” she said.