By: Sue Zywokarte, BS
On May 16th, 2012, I graduated from George Mason University (GMU) after earning my Bachelors of Science degree with a major in Biology and two minors in Geography and Geographic Information Systems. My journey began while I was in a Community Services Board group home after being discharged from Northern VA Mental Health Institute; I started taking a course at Northern Virginia Community College. Because of my mental health issues, I did not finish my first degree attempts at GMU or VA Tech after high school.
I entered Pathway Homes in 2002, and with Pathways’ staff encouragement, I continued taking community college courses. I was able to work on a lot of my issues with the support of Pathway Homes, and I continued taking courses towards my Associates of Science degree which I earned in May of 2008, Cum Laude. I was accepted into GMU in the 2008 fall semester.
I decided on my major in Biology because I have always found the science of living organisms fascinating, and studying their structures and functions really interested me. Before I had entered GMU, I had taken a lot of geography courses as electives and found I also had an interest in Geography, Cartography and Geographic Information Systems. As a child, I remember I loved reading maps and I would practice drawing by hand maps that I read. As I got older, I would utilize topographic maps from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to plan hiking trips. These interests helped me gravitate towards biology and geography courses which ignited my passion for these subjects.
The counseling and support provided by Pathway Homes helped give me the confidence and drive to obtain my undergraduate degree from GMU. I had to work through feelings of self-doubt and anxiety regarding my abilities. Each course I completed gave me a little more confidence to continue. I was able to make the Dean’s list at GMU for the last three semesters. My counselor also encouraged me to apply for a scholarship sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons, which I was awarded last year.
For the past year I have held an internship position at the USGS. I worked in the Eastern Geology & Paleoclimate Science Center processing sediment samples to be utilized in ongoing climate research. I am currently looking into graduate school programs to pursue a Master’s Degree, a dream I never thought was possible before now. In my future I see myself working in a career I love, and I feel very fortunate to have the support of family, friends and Pathway Homes.
Sue is also currently a member of the Pathway Homes Board of Directors. We at Pathway Homes are extremely proud of her achievements and wish her the best in her educational and career pursuits!