The Karate Kid

A martial artist set to represent team USA next month in the world championships, Jasmine Kitterman ’16 discusses launching the Rollins chapter of The Odyssey and why she’s so passionate about feminism.

(Photo by Scott Cook) (Photo by Scott Cook)

Orlando-native Jasmine Kitterman ’16 may be tiny but she packs a punch—or in her case, a kick.

The 5’1”, 19-year-old, self-proclaimed feminist is a second-degree black belt in karate, which she teaches—along with a hip hop dance class for little kids—at her family’s Ultimate Power Martial Arts and Fitness Center in Lake Nona.

“I’ve been teaching now for five years, and competing as well,” Kitterman says. “Now that I’m in college, it’s harder to go around the world and take weeks off.”

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t still practice and compete. In fact, next month, she’ll be representing team USA at the WKC World Championships, which will be held at the Wyndham Orlando Resort International. “It’s gonna be near Universal, luckily, so maybe I won’t have to miss so much school.”

Which is a good thing, since Kitterman is hoping to graduate in May, completing a major in critical media and cultural studies plus a minor in communication studies in only two years. During that time, in addition to being a martial arts instructor, she’s joined the Rollins Climbing Club, performed in LipSync, been a workstudy for IT, completed a PR internship at WPRK, and, this summer, launched the Rollins College chapter of The Odyssey.

“I love sleep, don’t get me wrong,” she confesses. “It’s just my subconscious doesn’t love sleep.”

The newest member of Rollins student media family, The Odyssey is an online Buzzfeed-like site, where Rollins students post roughly 12 articles a week. And while Kitterman stresses that The Odyssey is not competing with The Sandspur or The Independent, she does want people to know how close-knit the group of writers have become, even dubbing themselves “The Squadessy.” “We’re our own Greek life organization or something,” she says.

What else do you need to know about this powerhouse?

Her favorite place on campus is the library (“It’s like a hangout for people who want to be educated.”); her favorite writer is John Green (“I love young adult fiction.”); and her favorite Rollins memory is jumping through the fountain in front of the campus center, which she found out later is tied to a campus superstition:

“People were like, ‘Oh my God, you’re not gonna graduate because you ran through the fountain,’ ” she says. “I was like, well, I guess I’m not gonna graduate. But here I am, senior year… and hopefully I will graduate next semester.” 

LJC: What made you want to start The Odyssey?

JK: This summer I came across an Odyssey article and I was like, “Whoa, this is cool,” and I just kept clicking through the website. I noticed that the writers were all college students, and I was like, “Oh, maybe I can do this.” I applied to be a writer, but I applied as a general Florida area writer, and they contacted me. They liked me, and then they were like, “Hey, do you think Rollins would be a good fit for this cuz we’re opening up new locations everywhere across the world right now?” They’re expanding by like double right now. They gave me the opportunity, and I went with it.

It was me originally, and then my best friend Carmen Cheng ’18. She was (and still is) involved with The Sandspur and The Independent—next year she’ll be the editor of that. The day after I found out about it, I was like, “Hey, do you want to help me start this?” And she was like, “Sure let’s do it.”

LJC: Is there one story that you’ve been dying to write for a while but haven’t been able to?

JK: Yes. We’re integrating video, and I want to ask people around campus if they consider themselves a feminist. I want to ask a ton of people and see the statistics on campus and write an article about it. I think that since we’re a liberal arts college it would be interesting to see who actually identifies with that. It’s something I study a lot, and I’m passionate about.

LJC: In addition to The Odyssey, what are you reading regularly?

JK: Buzzfeed. All day long.

LJC: What story are you most proud of that you’ve written for The Odyssey or elsewhere?

JK: The one I’m most proud of so far would be one I wrote really early on. It was called Why I’m Bad at Being a Girl. It was decently personal as well as something that has to do with my major, so I integrated all of that stuff in and it was just a fun article to write. It wasn’t too serious or too funny, but explained it in a way where I could say why I was bad a being a girl as far as gender roles. And then I added funny gifs.

LJC: What is the most popular article so far that’s been posted on The Odyssey?

JK: It’s 30 Signs You Go to Rollins College. The lists are most popular right now.

LJC: What social justice issue would you say you’re most passionate about and why?

JK: It’s definitely feminism. One, I relate to it because I’m a girl in American society. And two, I think people don’t take it too seriously and I want to raise the bar.

I feel like I’m in a more privileged position as far as feminism goes because I’m an educated woman. I’m going to Rollins College. I work, but I’m not working 24/7 in a harsh environment or anything. I like using that privilege to raise awareness, especially through my writing and through talking to people.

My old idols, when I was in high school, used to be celebrities. Now it’s the suffragists. I just watched a documentary on the suffragists movement. Alice Paul, she’s like my favorite person in the world right now because she fought for the cause no matter what—she went on hunger strikes and went to jail.

Right now, I’d say the most pressing issue would have to be violence against women in any shape, way, or form. I think domestic violence is a big issue. (October is domestic violence awareness month.) Rape is as well. I just watched a documentary on rape on college campuses, and it’s pretty scary. You are way more likely to get raped than get attacked by a shark, and people are afraid of sharks more than they are concerned with rape.

LJC: How can students become involved in The Odyssey?

JK: Students can either shoot me an email (rollinsodyssey@gmail.com) or there’s an employment tab on our website where you can apply. Then all you have to do is send us an email with a writing, photography, and/or video sample.

Check us out at theodysseyonline.com/rollins.