Former GSCC student honored as nation’s outstanding alum


Toshiko Abe, deputy foreign minister for the Japanese government and a member of the House of Representatives, is a recipient of the 2014 Outstanding Alumni Award presented by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Abe chose Gadsden State Community College as her first educational experience in the United States from 1998-1999. She continued her education at Jacksonville State University for one semester and then attended the University of Alabama in Birmingham achieving her master of science in nursing. Abe relocated to Chicago and earned her doctorate in administrative studies from the University of Illinois. 

After completing her doctorate program, she served as lecturer at Gumma University and assistant professor at Tokyo Medical and Dental University. Abe was elected to the House in 2005, after serving as vice president of the Japanese Nursing Association and parliamentary vice minister of foreign affairs.

Her desire within the political arena is to reform the social welfare system.  Her education in health care was driven by a passion to serve the poor, children, and the elderly.

“Toshiko credits Gadsden State for helping her improve her English and giving her the foundation she needed to achieve impressive goals,” Paula Ross-Derrick, GSCC coordinator of international programs, said

“We are so proud of her accomplishments in both her education and political government in Japan.”  Gadsden State Acting President Bill Blow nominated Abe for this prestigious award, which she will receive on April 8 during an impressive ceremony in Washington, D.C. 

The AACC presents these awards annually to former students from community colleges who are making outstanding contributions in their chosen career fields and to their communities.  

The occasion will honor six truly exceptional award recipients and will highlight the 2014 Annual convention. 

Gen. Colin Powell will deliver the keynote address.

“We are so proud to have one of our former students receive this award,” Blow said.

“She is a shining example of what an international education can do for a person and how it can change the lives of many.  This demonstrates the value and quality of a community college education.”

This is the second time a Gadsden State student has been a recipient of this prestigious award. 

In 2002, Jeff Cook, singer and songwriter in the country music group Alabama, received this award.

Cook and Dr. Victor Ficker, former GSCC president, were honored in a ceremony held in Chicago.

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