Junior Jasmine Rogers has been a standout outside hitter for the Pioneers for three years, but the efforts she has strived towards at Sacred Heart University go far beyond the volleyball court. Rogers has used her voice as a student athlete to promote the issues of social justice and the ways that it has shaped her life since she was young.
Rogers’ father, Roy Rogers, is a former National Basketball Association (NBA) player and current NBA assistant coach for the Portland Trail Blazers. Upon entering the coaching scene in 2008, black head coaches and assistant coaches were a rarity in the league.
“He has influenced my love for sports and helps me develop as a player both physically and mentally,” said Rogers. “He knows every type of struggle I go through.”
Seeing her father persevere and have success in a field that he was a minority of has inspired Rogers to have the same mindset as a black student athlete. Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood was one of the many obstacles she faced on this journey.
“It was a little difficult trying to navigate that world, not fully fitting in with the black community and not fully fitting in with the white,” said Rogers. “It wasn’t until college where I found more people who understood what I was going through.”
Despite being one of the only black athletes on the women’s volleyball team, Rogers has grown more comfortable with handling these issues head on and telling her story.
“I felt like I had to be that voice that connects the community between the white and the black people,” said Rogers. “For a while, it felt more like a responsibility like it was my duty to but as I got older, I realized it’s not my job and I can’t force people to get educated if they don’t want to.”
Education on social injustices is what Rogers feels is a priority to real change, and with her degree from Sacred Heart she plans to be a significant part of this change at the professional level.
“I’m Human Research Management so my plan is to go into human resources development in the NBA after I graduate primarily for diversity inclusion,” said Rogers. “Making sure that everyone is held to the same standard.”
With one year left of her undergraduate program at Sacred Heart, Rogers wants to make an impact that will not only go beyond her years at the university, but will also go beyond the record books as well.
“Realizing that just because you have privilege, understanding what that privilege is should be on a daily basis and not just during black history month or just when we’re talking about it,” said Rogers. “Getting people to realize that it’s not only our responsibility to fight the fight.”