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Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship awardees announced

September 06, 2011

Five students in the School of Social Work’s Tucson Component have been named the initial recipients of the Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship, established by Community Partnership of Southern Arizona and ASU.

CPSA, the Regional Behavioral Health Authority for Pima County, joined with ASU’s School of Social Work to establish the endowed scholarship in February 2011 to honor Zimmerman, who graduated in 2006 from the master’s program at the school’s Tucson Component.  An aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Zimmerman was among those killed in the Jan. 8 shootings.

Zimmerman was known for his dedication to serving others, his belief in democracy, and his uncompromising respect for others. Other organizations and individuals in the Tucson community have also contributed to the scholarship fund.

The $4,000 scholarships are for master’s-level students who have demonstrated dedication to public behavioral health or public policy and who have shown a commitment to the values of service and social justice that Zimmerman demonstrated.

The 2011-2012 recipients are:

• Faviola Augustin, a former labor organizer and currently an advocate for child victims of crime, immigrant rights and the Latino community. She hopes to work in public behavioral health as an advocate for Latinas who have experienced sexual violence and trauma, to help them bring about change on the personal and community levels.

• Jeffrey Dixon, pastor of Community Presbyterian Church of San Manuel; former chaplain resident at University Medical Center and group facilitator at COPE Community Services. He has blended his pastoral experiences with social action and hopes to become a therapist. He is employed at the new Crisis Response Center.

• John Rorke, a U.S. Army veteran and former constituent-services intern in Rep. Giffords’ office who now interns with Pima County government. He plans to focus on issues of public policy and continues to work with Giffords’ office on community outreach, veterans’ affairs, and immigration issues.

• Casandra Thompson, also a U.S. Army veteran, who has worked in public and private behavioral-health settings and now is with Child Protective Services. A single mother, she hopes to advocate for improved public behavioral health services in the community.

•  Heather Voelkel, a former schoolteacher and education and advocacy coordinator for the Community Food Bank. She has also provided care at Las Familias for individuals who experienced childhood sexual abuse. She hopes to develop her leadership skills to bring about collaborations for social justice.

The awardees will be honored at a celebration luncheon on Sept. 13 at the Jewish Community Center.