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Inspiring through design, play and innovation

Jazmine Darden will be Dunwoody College of Technology’s 2022 Commencement Speaker

Jazmine Darden will be Dunwoody’s 2022 Commencement Speaker

Dunwoody College of Technology is proud to announce that Jazmine “Jaz” Darden has been selected to be this year’s Commencement speaker. An entrepreneur, educator, and creator, Darden will speak to the Class of 2022 during the May 24 Graduation Ceremony at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Darden graduated from Dunwoody in 2017 with an Associate’s of Applied Science degree in Engineering Drafting & Design. Prior to that she earned both a Bachelor’s of Arts in Physics and a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics from Augsburg College in 2013.

For the past four years, Darden has been sharing her knowledge and skills with Dunwoody students as an Adjunct Instructor in Dunwoody’s Design for Manufacturing: 3D Printing program.

Darden works with her students to build a Foosball table as a class project.

Although she has many professional accomplishments, the core of Darden’s mission is to inspire the next generation of doers, creators, and thinkers.

Darden has a passion for working with kids who look like her. She was frustrated by being the “only” in many of her college classes and seeks to work with and inspire students of color, inner city youth, and girls in STEM.

As part of that focus, Darden created a 3D printed Bluetooth speaker program for young STEM students to design, 3D print, and solder the electrical components of their own Bluetooth speaker. She was able to extend its reach to more than 500 students, partnering with organizations and programs including Minneapolis Public Schools, YWCA Eureka Program, local museums, and Hennepin County.

Hennepin County connected with Dunwoody to find a solution to challenges they were experiencing through their juvenile community service program. Together, with Darden, girls in the program came to Dunwoody to complete their hours of community service by receiving a tour of the school and participating in Darden’s Bluetooth speaker program. Their creations were donated to a youth homeless shelter; and many of these girls were inspired by Darden and the program to explore their own higher education options.

Darden, right, helps a student in Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science (GEMS) camp make a blue-tooth speaker.

In addition, Darden has worked in multiple positions for the Girls in Engineering, Mathematics and Science (GEMS) & Guys In Science and Engineering (GISE) programs for more than 11 years. With GEMS and GISE, Darden has been a mentor to the students, written curriculum for the program, trained teachers and coaches, and currently leads the innovation lab, which is responsible for all 3D printing classes in the program. She is always seeking additional ways to do youth outreach with 3D printing and considers herself lucky to be constantly manufacturing, tinkering, engineering, and inspiring children.

Additionally, Darden founded her own 3D printing company that designed, made, and donated more than 30,000 “ear saving” mask accessories to various hospitals, EMS personnel and front-line workers. She trademarked the product with the name Ear Hero™, which showcases her “I AM” brand with phrases meant to encourage and inspire like “I AM Strength,” “I AM Courage,” or “I AM Brave.” Darden has even made custom Ear Heros™ for the Ford company printed with the saying “I AM Ford TOUGH.”

In her role as the Director of the Young Inventor Challenge with People of Play, Darden is responsible for providing an opportunity for children ages 6 to 18 to develop and pitch their original inventions to major toy and game companies, industry professionals, members of the media, and general public. She works with big toy brands like Hasbro, Mattel, and Goliath to provide children with this unique educational experience that ignites imagination, creativity, and presentation skills in young inventors and provides a means of taking their inventions to greater heights with professional critiques from industry experts.

Because of her role hosting the Young Inventor Challenge Awards Show, Darden was asked to participate in interviews for the History Channel’s “The Toys that Built America” special, which shares the untold stories that brings nostalgic toys to the forefront as driving forces behind cultural and economic shifts against the backdrop of major events in American history.

Darden remains active at Dunwoody. She serves on the Alumni Board for Dunwoody College, is a member of the Program Advisory Committee (PAC) – a volunteer committee of representatives who provide advice about the direction of Dunwoody’s academic programs and services and helps the college take appropriate action to provide relevant learning, and is part of the Application Review Committee for the Pathways To Careers program. In addition, Darden has conducted numerous youth outreach events and programs with local schools on behalf of the College.

Her community involvement includes serving on the Bakken Museum Exhibit Advisory Committee, which will inform the approach of a new exhibit. And recently, Darden was selected as one of the 2022 Women in Business Honorees by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Regardless of where Darden works and volunteers her time, she arrives with a “yes” attitude that embraces her motto of “Aspire to Create. Create to Inspire.”