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Counseling student receives Hearst/CSU award

September 27, 2006

Photo of Fatima JinnahFatima Jinnah, a graduate counseling major, is a recipient of the 2006/2007 William R. Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement. Nineteen students throughout the California State University system were presented with awards of $3,000 each from the CSU Office of the Chancellor in September. Jinnah is pursuing a career in college and career counseling and is hoping to complete her master of science in counseling in 2007.

A native of East San Jose, Jinnah discovered a passion for helping others succeed in grade school when she helped classmates with their homework. In high school she volunteered to grade papers for a remedial algebra class; eventually she tutored the students and enjoyed the rewards of fostering their pride and self-respect through school work.

"I went up to one boy who came to class sporadically, didn't turn in homework and never brought a book, backpack or pencil to class," Jinnah said. "I decided to teach him a few algebra tricks."

Jinnah soon discovered that the student had a good understanding of algebra and was very quick to catch on to new concepts. "It was such an exciting feeling to be a part of teaching and learning and I loved the pride I saw in his eyes. I've been tutoring ever since."

While working toward a bachelor of arts in development studies at University of California, Berkeley, Jinnah volunteered to tutor and mentor at a local middle school and through her place of worship. At SF State she became an AmeriCorps volunteer and student adviser with the Advising Center and College of San Mateo Career Development Center. She was also a counselor at the Foundation for College Education in East Palo Alto and at the YWCA in East San Jose.

Rebecca Toporek, SF State assistant professor of counseling, said it is easy to see how Jinnah, a leader in SF State's Counseling Students Association, stood out among all the candidates for the Hearst/CSU scholarships.

"Fatima is as motivated and passionately committed to her community as she is to her studies," Toporek said. "She takes what she learns in the community and brings it back to her studies, her classes and the program."

Jinnah is confident that she has chosen the right professional path for herself. "Through the process of helping others get in touch with their interests and ambitions, I became more aware of my own," she said.

She is thrilled to receive the Hearst/CSU support, which will help with her tuition, books and some living expenses, but her concern for the students she counsels is always on her mind. "It's very difficult to work and go to college," she said. "Add to that the time it takes to look for financial support and getting through college can seem overwhelming."

Nonetheless, she urges the students she counsels to persevere. "I always tell them that there is more help out there than you think."

-- Denize Springer


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Last modified September 27, 2006 by University Communications