Allison Jordan earns Karl S. Pister Leadership Award to attend UCSCby Jan Janes on Jun 1, 2018
A transcendent smile, easy laugh and engaging eyes define a student who, by age 15, was already focused on attaining a PhD. Allison Jordan sees, meets and overcomes obstacles on the way to achieving her goals.
Allison Jordan, center, with Dr. Kathleen Rose, Gavilan College Superintendent/
President and instructor Sara Salinas, holds the certificate of her Karl S. Pister
Scholarship to UC Santa Cruz.
"I got a phone call from Kim Benjamin in the financial aid office," Jordan said. Did she know she qualified to apply for the Pister scholarship?
Checking out the information online, she saw she met the criteria. And reacted.
The Karl S. Pister Leadership Opportunity Award is available to qualifying students from 13 greater Bay Area community colleges. One student from each college is selected to receive $10,000 for each of two years to attend UCSC.
"It was right on top of the deadline date," Jordan said. She had a base essay from other applications. But the Pister application required seven essays.
Jordan started from scratch, pulled from her other work, and used every available moment when she was not in class to work on her application.
"You just have to make it work," she said. And did.
"As a student, Allison demonstrated a love of learning," said Sara Salinas, anthropology instructor who recommended Jordan for the scholarship. "Her level of commitment necessary to succeed in college was impressive."
Allison arrived early to Gavilan
As a freshman in high school, age 14, Jordan started getting basic college units in general education, communication studies and economics. She used her academic credits earned at Gavilan, plus required classes in high school, to graduate high school halfway through her junior year.
"I was really focused on getting a masters and PhD, and I wanted to get out of high school," she said. High school counselors fought her on it, saying it wouldn't look good applying to college at age 15. So she went to the principal. Since then area high schools now work with students who want to create accelerated pathways.
She took her first assessment before doing her roadmap, a decision that created some challenges. She began attending Gavilan in spring 2016, starting on a track that, she discovered, would lead to a BA, not a BS.
Why stress about BA vs. BS?
The pathway correction required Jordan to take multiple, challenging science and math classes to realign the pathway and catch up. Her dream is to pursue a medical career.
"I switched counselors," Jordan said, "And that made all the difference."
"She is resilient," said Carla Velarde-Barros, the counselor Jordan found to help rework her pathway. "When her initial plans for college did not go as originally hoped, Allison adjusted her plans, reevaluated her options and made the best of her situation."
Jordan also worked closely with a classmate, Anna Neibeo, a 2017 Gavilan graduate and social work student who transferred to CSU Monterey Bay. Jordan also cites an inspirational mentor, Maria, a woman in her 90s who works with homeless populations at Safe Spot. The program is a safe car parking program that allows homeless people to park their cars, get food, do laundry, and keep their families with them.
"Allison will de amazingly well at UCSC," said Velarde-Barros, "I cannot wait to hear what the future holds for her after that. I know she will accomplish everything she sets out to do."
Close to the heart, close to the family
Jordan has worked with the Compassion Center in Gilroy. She has raised money through various initiatives to raise funds for programs supporting homeless populations.
At the Pister scholarship interview at UCSC, she felt it was meant to be, or not. "I left everything on the table."
The questions, similar to the written application, asked about educational plans, goals, involvement with the community. Jordan's family presented a good base for navigating the interview.
"I talked for more than 25 minutes," she said. "My focus was on my passion. My volunteer work with the homeless people I have worked with, and my personal family situation." Jordan's uncle has multiple sclerosis, and her family cares for him. Her father is homeless.
"This is what I know"
Jordan sees Santa Cruz, with its homeless population, as a group she wants to create solutions for. During the interview, she also shared ways her educational goals and professional goals meshed with the UCSC research focus. Her plan is to earn a BA in psychology and a PhD in clinical psychology, with an emphasis in abnormal psychology.
"I want to establish a clinical practice," she said. "I also want to develop musical therapy for children with autism and elderly people with dementia."
Looking ahead, Jordan will take summer 2018 off from academic work. Then it will be full speed ahead in the fall as she begins her studies at UCSC.
Honors student Allison Jordan walks in the Gavilan
College graduation processional in May, 2018.
After her Pister application was complete, but before her interview, Jordan conducted her own tour of the UCSC campus. She said, "I feel very lucky. I am sure everyone who applied was deserving."
"I am very grateful for the education I received at Gavilan." Jordan said, "and the help from everyone along the way."