Gabe Zimmerman Scholarship recipients, 2020-2021, School of Social Work

5 master's students in social work receive Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarships

Five students in the ASU School of Social Work (SSW) Tucson were named the 2020-2021 recipients of the Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarships at the 10th annual presentation and virtual celebration of the awards Nov. 20.

The scholarships are named in memory of Zimmerman, an aide to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and 2006 graduate of the master’s program at SSW Tucson.

Zimmerman was among those killed during a gunman’s attack on the congresswoman in January 2011 when she and congressional staff members appeared at an event in Tucson. Giffords was among those wounded in the attack.

The Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA), which is the regional behavioral health authority for Pima County, joined with ASU’s School of Social Work to establish the endowed scholarship in February 2011.

Other Tucson-area individuals and organizations also have donated to support the scholarships. They were first awarded later in 2011 and have been presented each year since.

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 five 2020-2021 recipients are:

  • Isabel Ball, a dual Mexican and U.S. citizen raised in the Arizona borderlands, who has a background in U.S. and Mexican immigration policy. She plans to pursue her license in clinical social work upon graduation and eventually pursue a doctoral degree in social work.
  • Boone Harper, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran with a field placement working with veterans in a housing program based at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. He plans to continue to work towards his license in clinical social work.
  • Marissa Molina, a first-generation college student, the first in her family to attend college and who will be the first to earn a master’s degree in May 2021. An intern at the Tucson VA Medical Center oncology department, she plans to continue working with cancer patients, as she herself is a cancer survivor.
  • Amanda Rader, a former Peace Corps volunteer. With an academic background in sociology, Spanish and international politics, she has worked extensively in international experiential education. She has explored the confluence of micro and macro factors playing into global injustices, as well as creative and concerted movements to address those imbalances.
  • Bruce Ybarra, who works full time, is raising a family and is an intern at Pueblo High School in Tucson and at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. He believes that with passion and heart, social workers can lead the change they believe in for the tomorrow they want for their clients and themselves.

Speakers at the 10th anniversary celebration included School of Social Work Director James Herbert Williams, SSW Tucson Associate Director Lela Williams and Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Dean Jonathan Koppell. Kent Burbank of the social services faculty at Tucson’s Pima Community College provided a remembrance of Zimmerman.

Zimmerman’s father, Ross, also attended the celebration and offered a few words about the profession that meant so much to his son.

“Social work is a profession of the modern world. It emerged as a multi-disciplinary, practical field of study to effect change at the individual and societal levels,” he said. “We can’t necessarily solve the challenges of the 21st Century, but the need for social workers to help people cope with the challenges will be great.

“Gabe would have been the first person I talked to about these issues and ideas. He would have faced the future squarely, honestly and warmly.

“Can we do the same?”

In this photo, digitally compiled from separate photos of each of them, are the five recipients of the 2020-2021 Gabe Zimmerman Memorial Scholarships. Each is a master's degree student in the ASU School of Social Work. From left: Marissa Molina, Isabel Ball, Bruce Ybarra, Amanda Rader and Boone Harper. Photo courtesy of ASU School of Social Work