By Monica R. Correale
Graduate student at Humboldt State University
2014 Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar
Growing up, school was a safe place for me. Going to class was the best part of my day—not only because it challenged and excited me, but because it was a temporary relief from my home life.
Child abuse, domestic violence, and my parents’ struggles with mental illness and substance abuse were among the myriad of issues that I faced every day. Although I enjoyed school and dreamt of professional success, it was difficult to envision a future for myself that differed from that of my parents. For much of my childhood and adolescence, I struggled with self-doubt, anxiety, and depression. I eventually realized that there was a long legacy of trauma and dysfunction in my family. It was at this point that I truly embraced my responsibility to develop myself into a healthy, productive person, not only to break the cycle in my own family, but in order to affect social change in the world.
After six years of attending community college and working full-time, I transferred to Humboldt State, hoping that a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology would help me to accomplish this goal. My first year at HSU, I took a class in Developmental Psychopathology, which is a subfield of Developmental Psychology dedicated to the study of mental illness. I was immediately inspired by its integrative, multidisciplinary, and developmentally-informed approach. I enjoyed this course so much that I decided to pursue my Master’s in this field, and I hope to eventually earn my PhD and become a university professor.
The support from my professors at Humboldt State and everyone in the CSU has been monumental. When I found out I was selected as the 2014 Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar and would receive a generous scholarship to help fund my graduate education, I was filled with gratitude to the many people throughout my life who have always supported me. It was also validation that working hard pays off.
If my experience in the CSU has taught me anything, it’s that the difficulties I have faced throughout my educational journey are not uncommon. Resiliency is all around us here at the CSU. Many of our students have overcome tremendous life challenges in order to pursue a degree. Many are the first in their family to go to college, have suffered through family traumas, or have faced unique barriers due to their ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Getting to know these students has affirmed my belief in the power of education as an avenue for social progress. It’s also reminded me that I am not alone in my experiences.
I came from a home environment that hindered growth and advancement, but I was also fortunate enough to have a school and a community filled with people who supported my development and cared for my well-being. I truly believe that with hard work and social support, all students have the potential to succeed. More importantly, I believe it is our responsibility to use our education not only to improve our personal circumstances, but to give back to the lives of others.
*Monica R. Correale is one of 23 recipients of the 2014 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. The CSU Trustees’ Awards are among the highest student distinctions within the university, and are awarded to students who have demonstrated superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. As the top-scoring recipient of the CSU Trustees’ Award, Correale was selected as the Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar and will be receiving a $12,000 scholarship.