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September 6, 2006
DH 06 RH67
Contact: Russ Hudson,
Media Relations Coordinator
CSUDH: Hearst Scholar Started from Down, but Now She Is Up
Carson, CA—The road up for junior Tamanika Ferguson began from far down: A dropout in Harbor City living a self-destructive life. Friends dead, in jail, or high. As a teenager, she was put on probation. Then her daughter, to whom she’d given birth at age 16, was nearing her own teenage years.
She was 25 years old. Time for a change.
Ferguson just became the fourth consecutive California State University, Dominguez Hills Hearst Scholarship winner, one of the most prestigious awards the California State University Board of Trustees can bestow on a student. Of the more than 400,000 students on 23 campuses in the CSU system, only 19 were chosen for the award this year which, in its full iteration, is the William Randolph Hearst/California State University Board of Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Ferguson’s road to the Hearst traveled through the Deborah C. Sears Scholarship and the Miriam Mathews African American visions Scholarship from the Cal State Dominguez Hills Black Faculty and Staff Association. The Hearst and the Black Faculty honors go to a student who had to overcome great odds to reach high levels of achievement. Ferguson did just that, and now has a double major, Public Administration and Africana Studies. She already has an associate of arts degree in Liberal Studies from Long Beach City College.
The high achiever is striving upward, but is also looking backward. She serves as a volunteer at Mentoring A Touch Above, a nonprofit organization that helps youth in the juvenile courts and the California Youth Authority facilities make the transition back into mainstream society when they are released.
“I have the unusual experience of being a college student in conjunction with knowing a life entirely different than academia,” she says. “Given my personal experience as a troubled youth, I believe that I can offer these adolescents hope, guidance, and support with my ability to interact in two different and distinct worlds.
“I was born and raised in Harbor City, California, a community where gangs and fast money were a way of life,” she says. “I didn’t have support or guidance from positive role models, which I believe play a crucial role in the growth and development of our youth today.” She took a look around at friends who were no longer there, and those who were there had few prospects. And, she could see she was one of them. It no longer had appeal. “I was tired of my lifestyle, and I was aware that my daughter was growing up without me, while being raised by her paternal grandmother. I am her role model and I felt in my heart that going back to school and furthering my education would give me the opportunity to provide her with a better quality of life.”
Now, in addition to being a full-time student and raising her daughter herself, she strives to be a role model for her fellow students. Having received approximately $25,000 in scholarships over the last five years, she advises them on her own by giving free workshops on how to best utilize opportunities for financial aid and scholarships.
She has been featured in Who’s Who Among America’s Colleges and Universities, made the CSUDH Dean’s List three times, and received numerous leadership and academic awards from Long Beach City College, including the Viking Leadership Award, the Pacific Coast Crystal Leadership Award, and the Outstanding Student Award.
“Having the opportunity to obtain academic and personal success has been a blessing and a reward,” she says. “The benefit of mentorship for me is being able to touch the lives of others with whom I share a similar background. I now have the ability to provide guidance, support, and direction for our troubled, and often misguided, youth.”
As a mother, and the first in her family to pursue a college education, her hopes are even greater.
In fact, just as her path led through Long Beach City College and numerous awards, it will also lead her right through CSUDH. Upon graduation, Ferguson plans to pursue both her master’s and doctoral degrees in social welfare and public administration, and to teach at the community college level.
But her goals for herself aren’t enough. She has looked backward at her family life, and now is looking forward to her family’s life.
“My mother didn’t have the opportunity to obtain a college education, because she was a single parent with the responsibility of taking care of my brother and I while my father was incarcerated,” she says. “My daughter is 13 now, and she is in the AVID (Advance Via Individual Determination) program at her school, an honors-level program that prepares middle and high school students for college. My greatest hopes for her are that she strives to maintain excellent grades, pursue a college education in an area that she is interested in, and attain happiness in her personal pursuits.”
California State University, Dominguez Hills
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