“Embrace Your Imperfections, and Remember That You Are Brave”

Zine Ebersohn ‘24

Zine Ebersohn


Zine Ebersohn ‘24, who comes from South Africa, brings a deep love for her country and a passion for storytelling and helping people to CCNY. Her journey to New York was initially as a scholarship recipient studying acting. Inspired by her community's struggles with racial inequality and barriers led her to realize the importance of mental health access for all. She has found her calling in mental health advocacy. 

Please share a little about your background — what’s your story?   

I grew up in diverse South Africa, and I have a deep love for my country and its people. I never fully realized how blessed I am to have grown up in such a diverse country until I began my journey at CCNY. I've always had a passion for storytelling and helping people. My mom's favorite story to share is about how she used to think she had lost me, and when she'd look around, I'd be either sitting at a table talking to a stranger or making new friends. People are my passion. At the age of 18, I received a scholarship to study acting in New York. Thanks to the collective efforts of my entire community, who organized fundraisers and supported my dreams, I had the incredible opportunity, albeit a bit daunting, to move to New York. Through my own mental health challenges, I came to the realization that I wanted to share and listen to other people's stories in the field of mental health. That's when I encountered the wonderful institution that is the City College of New York.

What is your passion or purpose behind your studies at CCNY? 

My passion is mental health access for ALL. It was amazing for me how CCNY connected me in a profound way to South Africa. My community has been my anchor and yet so many of the people do not have access to mental health services, still struggling with racial inequality and barriers that make me furious. I am studying for them. I want to use my voice and energy to serve the communities who are first to cheer us on, no matter how difficult their own struggles are. My mom, dad and brother who made my dreams their own. I want to be of service to my New York, South African and global community. They are my passion and my purpose.  

Where are you in your career? How has the Colin Powell School helped you along the way? 

I think I will always see my career as a journey. I will never know enough. In that regard I am at the best point in my career because I am learning something new every day: not only academically but about human beings. The Colin Powell School has been my mascot and pillar. The staff at the Office of Student Success are my family, away from home, and without them I do not know where I would have been. Through my Colin Powell Fellowship I have met friends for life, and I found an amazing internship that introduced me to people who are already doing what I dream of doing in the mental health field. In my six years in New York, the Colin Powell School has been the greatest blessing.  

What are your post-graduation plans?  

I am planning to do my master's degree in clinical psychology with a focus on mental health policy and inclusion. I double major in Psychology and Philosophy because I would love to pursue a PhD in the philosophy of psychology and hopefully teach future psychologists about mental health inclusion and the ethics of removing westernized ideologies from counseling and working with each patient regarding their identity. Given the current situations in the world, I have been thinking more about taking a break after graduating and volunteering with organizations who are in the field, serving the communities who need all our help.  

Please share a significant memory and/or accomplishment from your time at CCNY.  

Becoming a Colin Powell Fellow is still one of my greatest honors. The fellows in my cohort inspire me with their passion and life stories and I still cannot believe I get to share a room with them. Running for school president was a beautiful experience for me, it allowed me to understand our CCNY community so much better and share in the passion of their needs. My favorite memory at CCNY (so far) is sharing moments with my mentees. To hear their fears and excitement and being able to use my experience to guide them is something I hold remarkably close to my heart. And of course, introducing my parents to some of the staff at the Colin Powell School: two of my families in one room.  

Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students? 

When you get overwhelmed, look around you: you are not alone. You are brave, you are smart, and you are so loved at CCNY. It is also okay to make mistakes, you are a student, and your job is to learn not to be perfect.  

How would you describe CPS in three words?  

Beautiful, Powerful, Home (for all) 

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