Aspiring Teacher Among the Top Students Honored by CSU Trustees

Monday, September 19, 2016
Photo of Marisa Jimison outside on campus

San Francisco State University senior Marisa Jimison has been named the Trustee Emerita Claudia Hampton Scholar by the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees. Awarded this year for the first time, the $9,000 scholarship recognizes a student who is pursuing a career in teaching and comes from a traditionally underserved population or educationally disadvantaged community.

The honor is conferred as part of the CSU Trustees’ Award, given annually to one student from each of the system’s 23 campuses. A first-generation college student, Jimison is pursuing a rigorous double major in Spanish and English with a concentration in education, with a minor in Comparative Literature — all while maintaining an excellent grade-point average.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to become a teacher was because growing up, I came from a really unstable home,” Jimison said. “We were low income and there were a lot of issues in my home around disability.” Those issues included the stress of mental illness in the family and a disability her mother suffered as the result of a car accident. “I remember my mom telling me all the time, ‘Go to school and give it your all,’” Jimison said. “So even though there was not a lot of stability at home, it was guaranteed at school. That helped me so much.”

In addition to her coursework, Jimison has volunteered tirelessly as a literacy and writing tutor for middle school and high school students. “It’s important to be there for all youth, but especially for kids who are going through difficult transitions. It can make a huge difference in their lives,” she said.

This semester, Jimison was also selected to participate in the Willie L. Brown Jr. Fellowship Program, which provides SF State students who have faced barriers pursuing a college education the opportunity to gain professional experience in the public sector while developing a lifelong commitment to public service. As a fellow, she works 16 hours each week with the Our Children, Our Families Council, an advisory body co-led by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco Unified School District Interim Superintendent Myong Leigh that aims to align city, school district and community efforts to improve outcomes for children, youth and families.

Jimison said many of her professors at SF State, including Jim Gilligan, assistant professor of English, have been inspirational. And Gilligan credits Jimison with a number of qualities, including humility and industriousness. “She is humble enough to acknowledge the limits of her knowledge and skill, and — once she has identified those limits — she is industrious enough to exceed them by seeking out new knowledge and learning new skills,” said Gilligan. “She is one of the hardest working students I’ve taught at SF State, and she has an impressive career ahead of her as an educator.”

After she graduates in May, Jimison plans to pursue a teaching credential or master’s degree, or both, and teach at the high school or community college level. “The most exciting thing about teaching is working with a student on a task or project that is overwhelming or daunting to them, and then watching as they practice, gain understanding and then eventually no longer need your help,” she said. “When they discover their own independence you can see how satisfied and accomplished they feel. That’s so important.”

—Mary Kenny

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Story reprinted from SF State News

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