Donors succeed in push to launch Gabe Zimmerman scholarship

Gabriel Zimmerman, community outreach director for Rep. Gabrille Giffords, D-Ariz., was remembered as a seasoned community organizer with a strong sense of social justice and conflict resolution. (Photo by Tory Anderson/Alliance for Retired Americans/Associated Press)

Recent key donations have pushed the Gabriel Zimmerman memorial scholarship over the $50,000 level needed to launch an endowment fund in his name.

Zimmerman, who graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2002 with a degree in sociology, was one of six people killed in the shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

Zimmerman, 30, was the first Congressional staff member in U.S. history to be killed in the line of duty.

The tragic circumstances of his death, and the values that motivated Zimmerman during his brief life, brought a large and varied group of people together throughout the country.

Donors chose to honor Zimmerman, a seasoned community organizer with a strong sense of social justice, in a way that related to his career path and educational goals.

The Gabe Zimmerman Scholarship will help outstanding students in the Division of Social Sciences who wish to pursue public service fund their studies at UCSC.

UCSC Social Sciences Dean Sheldon Kamieniecki said he could not think of a better way to honor Zimmerman’s life while helping students follow in his footsteps.

Zimmerman’s father, Ross Zimmerman, passed on the good news to his son’s co-workers in Gabrielle Giffords's Congressional Office.

"We’re pretty touched," he said. "They thought it was wonderful."

"As I think you know, the UC Santa Cruz years were wonderful for our son," he continued.  "Your people and programs strongly shaped the man Gabriel became.  I believe the UCSC program is one of the finest liberal arts programs in a public university in this country."

Ross Zimmerman said his son “learned so much” during his time at UCSC.

He also commented on his son's ideals, how they related directly to the education he received, and the goals of the scholarship named in his honor.

"Our son died promoting the democratic process in the wealthiest, most powerful nation in history," he said. "Tributes like this fund leave me confident our son will be remembered.  For that we thank you.  What remains to be determined is whether his death and the other deaths and injuries in the Tucson shootings will drive positive social change. I hope so."

A total of 452 donations were made to the fund since it began days after Zimmerman's death. Of that number, 183 gifts were made by UCSC graduates. Seven faculty members, nine parents of UCSC grads or current students, eight staff members, and two current students contributed. Gifts ranged from $10 to $5,000.

Donations to the Gabriel Zimmerman Scholarship Fund are still being accepted; they may be made online. More information may be obtained from and contributions sent to: Jennifer Graham, Social Sciences, UC Santa Cruz, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95064, or, (831) 459-3689.