City student Ana Isabel Serrano leaves a tale of affirmation

President of Active Minds and labor union intern graduates with transfer to UCSD


Ana Isabel Serrano takes a moment to consider her experience at San Diego City College while strolling through campus on May 19, 2022. Photo by Philip Salata/City Times Media

Philip Salata, News Editor

City Times - Spring 2022This story appeared in the latest print edition of City Times.

When Ana Isabel Serrano talks about what she does, she weaves in the stories of others.

She is unabashed by expressing her esteem for her mentors and colleagues and how they have influenced her decisions.

But she doesn’t hide in their shadows. Rather, she speaks in a way that shows someone who wants to take responsibility and do her part.

She is curious. And she goes against the grain.

Serrano honed her curiosity while growing up in Tijuana and attending what she described as a “very Catholic high school.”

“I tend to jump into taboo topics,” she said. “What don’t you want me to discover?”

Serrano at first found the higher education system in the U.S. confusing. But that did not slow her down.

When she landed at City and found psychology she knew that was it. Given all the stigma surrounding mental health issues, it was one of those taboo subjects she was not so privy to, and she was intrigued. 

The next steps came in succession. She soon became the president of Active Minds, a student-run chapter of the nationwide mental health advocacy organization, and joined Psi Beta, the honors society.

Then she met English professor Kelly Mayhew. In addition to English, Mayhew teaches gender studies as well as courses for the labor studies certificate along with Jim Miller.

They both struck a chord for Serrano. She was drawn to political and social issues.

“They really inspired me, and somehow, they validated my passions,” Serrano said.

Serrano soon after became an intern with the American Federation of Teachers labor union. 

She also took on the position of peer educator, acting as a student liaison for the Student Health Center.

In all this Serrano saw her interests converge.

Within her first term at City the COVID-19 pandemic hit, so in her leadership roles she was faced with the challenges of countless unknowns. But for her, those challenges enriched the experience.

She now heads to UC San Diego where she plans to study social psychology and aims to work in public policy. Postgraduate studies are clearly in the picture.

Even as Serrano moves toward new horizons, her care for her colleagues at Active Minds persists. She thinks about the future of the organization and is in awe of her colleagues.

Though it is not yet announced who will be taking the helm, between Geraldine Ferraren, Paul Verkouteren and Karolina Guerra, she knows the team will be in good hands.

Especially under the mentorship of mental health counselor Nadia Sayeh.

Serrano moves on to UCSD leaving a trail of affirmation.

“I would like future students to know that they just have to say yes to one thing, and people will try their best to support them and take them where they want to go,” Serrano said.

Active Minds is recruiting, contact them through Active Minds on Instagram.

Access Mental Health Counseling at City College.

Subscribe to the Student Health Center E-Newsletter.