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Overcoming Foster Care and a Shelter, Social Work Student at the Brooklyn Campus Graduates with Honors

Zeniah Sinclair Plans to be an International Social Worker Helping to Create Social Services Programs Globally


Helen Saffran,Associate Director of Public Relations
Brooklyn Campus,
Long Island University
(718) 488-1419

Brooklyn, N.Y. – May 12 will be a red-letter day for Zeniah Sinclair, 28, who survived a childhood in foster homes and a year in a shelter, always keeping alive her dream of a college education. The Crown Heights, Brooklyn, resident will graduate that day from the honors program at Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus with a bachelor’s degree in social work.

When she was 12, Sinclair, while living in southern California, was separated from her family and forced to enter the foster care system. Her mother had been diagnosed as bipolar and deemed incapable of taking care of her, and her stepfather wanted only to support his own children.

Sinclair remained a foster child until she “aged out” of the system at 21. Shortly after that, she spent more than a year in a women’s shelter, seeking safety away from an abusive relationship.

She came to New York City when she was 25 and enrolled at the Brooklyn Campus as a sophomore transferring from Glendale Community College in Los Angeles. At the Brooklyn Campus, she received academic and financial support and worked with mentors who took an interest in her academic success.

“I was insecure and didn’t feel that I was very smart,” said Sinclair, who was quickly accepted in the Campus’ honors program. “But I was soon able to believe in my abilities, and my grades reflected my effort to succeed.”

In the summer of her sophomore year, she took a course in the Brooklyn Campus’ Global College at their Costa Rica center, where she was able to immerse herself in the culture, learning Spanish from the families who hosted her and observing the needs of the people. The experience spurred her interest in global social work.

“I want to work in social work in communities around the world, helping to form social services programs in hospitals and impoverished communities,” said Sinclair, who intends to stay in school until she obtains a doctorate in social work.

Sinclair recently accepted a scholarship offer from New York University, where she plans to pursue an M.S.W. degree.

For her positive attitude and energy, Sinclair received the graduating senior Spirit Award from the Campus’ Honors Program. She also earned a top social work award and was included in Alpha Chi, the national College Honor Scholarship Society.

The Brooklyn Campus is distinguished by…
dynamic curricula reflecting the great urban community it serves. Distinctive programs encompass the arts and media, the natural sciences, business, social policy, urban education, the health professions and pharmacy, and include the Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, the Ph.D. in Pharmaceutics, the D.P.T. in Physical Therapy and the Pharm.D. in Pharmacy. A vibrant urban oasis in downtown Brooklyn, this diverse and thriving campus offers academic excellence, personalized attention, small class size and flexible course schedules. In 2006, a $45-million Wellness, Recreation and Athletic Center was opened to serve the Campus and the surrounding community. In 2007, the Cyber Café was launched, providing a high-tech hot spot for students and faculty members to meet and eat.

Posted 05/04/2011

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