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San Diego State University

Student Ability Success Center


Spring 2014


Spring 2014:  Make Your Resolution to Come See Us! 


 It’s the beginning of both a new year and a new semester.  Maybe in fall you didn’t make it in as much as you would have liked.  The good news is you’re still part of TRiO.  Come on in for writing assistance with Steve and Khyati, budgeting and finance help from Niki, and academic advising with Teresa.  We’re all rested and ready for another great semester!  And, if you aren’t already in our program, contact us to find out more about TRiO!


Career Choices: What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?


What we imagine ourselves doing for a living inevitably changes from our childhood on through adulthood. However, once we get to college, there is the much more pressure to commit. We come in with many expectations from parents and peers, and at times, it seems that we have forgotten about what it is that we ourselves want to do. Sometimes choices are made purely because of the realities of the marketplace: interpretative dance might be what really makes you feel alive, but majoring in it might mean you will be living in your parents’ basement for quite a long time. Keep in mind that your major in college may change along with your career choice, and this is absolutely normal. As you can see from our profiles, it’s part of life!


No Guns and Butter For Me!


When I was a kid, I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I liked creative pursuits--drawing, writing and playing guitar. But I guess I never thought I could get paid to do any of those things. As a result, when I first started college, I was a business major, figuring that businesses made money and people who work for them must get paid. After a year of micro and macroeconomics, I became convinced that if I saw another supply and demand curve with guns and butter I was going to swear off dairy for the rest of my life. 

 What would I do? What major would I switch to?  I had done well in biology. But what would I do with that degree? Work in a lab? The smell of formaldehyde made my stomach turn. Then there was English, which in high school had never been my favorite subject. However, in college we got to read all sorts of stuff that had been on the banned books list of my small Michigan town’s school board. It was basically what I call an intellectual awakening. The professor actually wanted us to formulate our own ideas and interpretations and not just regurgitate plot summary. I seemed to gravitate towards English as well as philosophy, and by the time I graduated, I was heavily into creative writing.

 In the early days after graduation, I really didn’t care about making money. I wanted to pay my bills and have enough time to write. This carried on into grad school.  When I told people I was getting a master’s degree in creative writing, I may as well have said underwater basket weaving.  Again, I wasn’t in it for money. I just knew that I couldn’t be happy behind some corporate desk shuffling papers. So, that’s how I ended up here--after years of teaching part time, I found a place where there’s no take home work of grading papers, and I get to know my students better. And since I don’t give out the grades, we stay on friendly terms! Best of all, I never have to worry about the supply of guns or butter.

 --Steve Haslem


Blooming in a New Direction


My parents had an amazing garden when I was growing up in Kurdistan, Iraq. They had variety of flowers, fruits, and vegetables. My siblings and I used to play in the garden with family and friends. I remember we used to drink hot tea and eat fresh baked cookies in the garden with the aroma of different flowers surrounding us. At that time, I wanted to become a dendrologist, one who studies plants and trees. 

I started Grossmont College with an undecided major then finally chose Kinesiology. I took many classes and enjoyed every class, but I was unsure. Even though I gained a lot of knowledge about nutrition, health tips, and learning about different sports, I still felt it wasn’t the path for me.

I met with counselors and researched on my own for different majors that I was interested in. I was looking into teaching and child development. Finally, after almost completing my AA in Kinesiology, I changed my major to Social Work. It took me five years to complete my AA due to changing my majors and not realizing what I really wanted to do.

I received my AA and transferred to SDSU to continue with my BA in Social Work. I had a wonderful time whiling studying for my BA. I did study abroad in Thailand and did an internship at Drug Court. No matter where you go or plan to do, you will always have your ups and downs, but at the end, everything will be worth it. I realized nothing comes easy to us. We have to work hard for what we want out of life. Life is full of tasks; we have to accomplish these tasks in small steps in order for us to reach each step of the ladder.

As of right now, I am working on my Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and as well as a certificate in Assistive Technology. After graduation, I want to work in a community or university setting. My long term goal is to develop an international foundation that works with people with disabilities from all over the world.  

--Delveen Tahir

Why Not Me?


When I was growing up, I had the aspiration to be a judge. I think that I have always had a connection with advocating for people. In sixth grade I learned about Thurgood Marshall who a lawyer who was instrumental in the Brown vs. Board of Education case of 1954. He was a black man; I was a young black girl. He had been elected to the Supreme Court, and I imagined that I could do the same.

By high school, the dream of becoming a judge was eclipsed by the hope of simply graduating. The class of 2004 was the first class in history to have to take the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and not being a very good test taker, I was justifiably concerned. I passed it on my first attempt, which was a relief. Even so, I was never considered college material. Even though I consistently performed in the A and B range, I was never placed in any Honors or AP courses. It was only in my last semester of High School that I began to give college any serious consideration, but I was unprepared.

My first semester in college was a huge culture shock. I began by taking economics, English, and humanities, for a total of nine units, but my grades were far from stellar. By the next semester I had gotten into the flow of things and began performing as I had expected, getting something like a 3.5 gpa overall. Also during this semester, I was given the unique opportunity to run for President of the Student Government. I imagined I would become an advocate for students by representing them on various committees and seeing to their concerns. In this way I was keeping with my initial desire to advocate for others and see that they got justice. An unforeseen consequence of this was that my grades plummeted for two straight semesters putting me at a 2.8 GPA at about the time I was ready to transfer. I took advantage of the Transfer Admissions Guarantee that was offered by San Diego State at the time and transferred in 2007.

Though I entered San Diego State as a Psychology major, I realized that the classes were simply too difficult, particularly at the higher levels and that I was not enjoying the subject matter as much as I had at the community college. I elected to change my major to something I could identify more with. In the break between spring of 08 and fall of 08 I changed my major to Africana studies hoping to learn more about one aspect of my identity. The classes went well and I enjoyed the material and the affirming nature of the courses. Africana Studies also has a strong emphasis on justice, equality and advocacy, and it demands that when we see injustice, we fix it. As I look back, I can see the twelve year old with a deep sense of justice, with a desire to advocate, and a passion for helping people, and I realized that I had not strayed far from my path.

During my time in Africana Studies I did a lot of research on special education and the disparities that exist therein for African Americans. While I studied this it occurred to me that I was neglecting yet another part of my identity. I am a person with a disability and I didn’t know much about how others coped with it, so whenever I spoke, it was only in relation to my own journey with Cerebral Palsy. I resolved to use time in a graduate program to explore disability.

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Africana Studies in 2010 and took a year off before going into graduate school to study Rehabilitation Counseling. During my studies I was confronted with much more injustice, many more disparities, particularly in the area of mental health. I remember watching a movie about Bellvue, a once famous facility which is now closed, and reading a book called Mad in America. In these two things, I saw the truth about how we as people treat individuals with mental illness, and I remember thinking, “Someone should fix this!”  Then I remembered all that I had learned in Africana Studies and all of my experiences up until then and I thought to myself “Why not me?”

--Rosalyn Johnson

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