FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Zofia Trexler is one of the 2,585 graduates at Fresno City College this year.
Out of the dozens of applicants, seven people were awarded the Dean's Medallion of Excellence Award.
Zofia is this year's recipient of the Dean's Medallion for the Social Science Department.
Zofia is graduating from Fresno City College with three associate's degrees and a 4.0 GPA.
She is also an advocate for people with psychiatric disabilities -- a mission that stems from a deeply personal place.
"My freshman year of high school, I had a suicide attempt and all through high school, I thought it would never get better. I did so poorly in high school and I thought, 'Wow, I screwed my whole life up.'" says Zofia.
But then she learned about the Pathway to Law School program, which is offered at Fresno City College.
Zofia says she saw it as one last chance to succeed and seized the opportunity. She studied law, public policy and society, global studies and political science.
She has already played a role in shaping state legislation. Last year, she spoke as a primary witness to the California Assembly Education And Senate Health committees.
Zofia explains, "I got to sit on the coalition for SB 224 that was passed into law this last October of 2021, which basically mandated mental health education in K through 12 schools."
Logan Tennerelli was one of Zofia's instructors at FCC and the current Dean of Students at San Joaquin College of Law.
She believes Zofia is someone who will continue to make the world a better place.
"I think that willingness and ability to normalize the stigma about being neurodivergent and mental health struggles really motivated other students to do the same," says Logan.
Zofia is off to Stanford this Fall. She will study Urban Studies and Human Rights.
She plans to keep pushing towards policy change for people who need mental health services.
Zofia recalls, "When I was institutionalized in a psychiatrist hospital, I found the practices to be really inhumane and I think that experience is what motivates me to pursue pushing a shift to community-based care."
Zofia is currently a Peer Self Advocacy Trainer for Disability Rights California, where she helps youth with transitioning into adulthood.
When Zofia graduates from Stanford, she plans to come back to the Central Valley and serve the community she grew up in.
Fresno City College Dean's Medallion recipient headed to Stanford
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