Alumni Giving
September 7, 2023 |

Scholarship Fuels Student’s Passion for Helping Others

By Jenny McKeel

Counselor and coach Dawn Davidson had been contemplating a return to school for two decades. When her position at the San Mateo County Pride Center was eliminated in 2021 due to COVID budget cuts, she decided the time was right to take the plunge and pursue a graduate degree in psychology to help her serve the LGBTQ+ community in a greater capacity. That’s when she discovered Golden Gate University. 

“I thought, this is what I need, a program that will be all online even after the pandemic,” reflected Dawn. “That was a big factor in my decision to choose a graduate program at GGU.” 

But Dawn didn’t anticipate the many obstacles that would appear in her path forward. Dawn and her sister had managed the care of their aging parents who live in Memphis, Tennessee for several years. After she began graduate school in Fall 2021, Dawn’s trips from the Bay Area, where she lives, to Memphis multiplied as her parents’ needs became more complex amid medical conditions, repeated hospitalizations, and several residential moves. Complicating matters, in the past year Dawn lost consistent access to the medication she relies upon to manage her ADHD diagnosis, due to a nationwide shortage of the medication, which has led to disruptions in her daily life. 

Despite these challenges, Dawn has maintained a 4.0 grade point average but with the mounting costs of her parents’ care, Dawn sought outside sources of support to help finance her degree. The Golden Gate University Annual Fund Scholarship in the amount of $3600 for the 2022-23 academic year has made a meaningful impact. 

“I am extremely grateful to have received this special scholarship money, as it will help me to cut down on the debt I’m now acquiring in pursuit of this degree,” said Dawn. “That helps me to focus on my studies, and on mom and dad, and not to worry so much about the financial issues.” 

Thanks to the scholarships she has received, Dawn has been able to stay in her apartment in Belmont, California while she pursues her degree and cares for her parents. 

“During the pandemic, it cushioned my fall,” said Dawn. 

At GGU, Dawn has benefited from coursework that addresses legal and ethical responsibilities, and she’s gained a solid grounding in the history and practice of various forms of psychotherapy and counseling. She particularly values courses focused on counseling culturally diverse clients, including racially diverse and LGBTQ+ clients. 

“I’ve experienced a racially diverse school,” commented Dawn. “I’ve felt that every single class has had a really strong emphasis on looking at marginalized communities and how we as a profession are marginalizing people and perpetuating this long-standing issue. I’ve been grateful.” 

Dawn’s future goal is to use her degree to access jobs where she can benefit from the experience of being part of a team at a clinic or agency. 

“Working on a team will provide support for my ADHD, and in turn I will be able to support others who are neurodiverse and/or LGBTQ+. Thank you, donors, for your continued contributions to my success.” 

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