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Hunters Point-born Marilyn Thomas wins high honor at SF State

October 6, 2012

by Jonathan Morales

Marilyn Thomas
Marilyn Thomas, a second-year master’s in public health student at San Francisco University, has been chosen as the 2012 Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar. The designation is given to the highest-scoring recipient of the William Randolph Hearst/CSU Board of Trustees’ Awards, and Marilyn is the first student from SF State to receive this honor. The CSU Board of Trustees formally announced the 23 Hearst Award recipients Sept. 12 and recognized them at its Sept. 18 meeting.

Since coming to SF State, Marilyn has not only been an exceptional scholar, but a dedicated advocate for her community.

Born in Hunters Point and raised in a broken home, Marilyn Thomas was homeless at 15, a high school dropout soon after and a single mother at 20. Determined to turn things around, she returned to school, graduated from SF State with a degree in biology and was named the student speaker at commencement. She returned to SF State for her master’s in public health and will graduate this spring.

In addition to her academic excellence, Marilyn has dedicated herself to eliminating the social and health inequities that plague communities like the one in which she was raised. As an undergraduate, she led an after school science program for high school girls of color to empower them to pursue their interest in science and encourage them to attend college.

More recently, she developed the science, technology, engineering and math curriculum for SF State’s Metro Academies program, which focuses on retaining and graduating underrepresented, low-income and first-generation college students.

Marilyn has dedicated herself to eliminating the social and health inequities that plague communities like the one in which she was raised. As an undergraduate, she led an after school science program for high school girls of color to empower them to pursue their interest in science and encourage them to attend college.

As a medical professional, she plans to bring preventative health care to marginalized communities where it is currently lacking. “Achievement is not about the obstacles you’ve overcome,” Marilyn says, “It’s what you choose to do with your life despite that. It doesn’t have to be a sad story.” In particular, she notes how her success has inspired her 17-year-old son to strive for his dreams.

Following her graduation, Marilyn plans to enter a doctoral program and continue her commitment to public health and social justice.

Jonathan Morales, publicist and staff writer for San Francisco State University, can be reached at jmm1@sfsu.edu.

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