She was born and raised in the former Soviet Union Republic of Azerbaijan, but fled with her parents to the United States to escape the instability resulting from a deadly conflict with neighboring Armenia. Today, Amaliya Blyumin is putting the lessons she learned while adjusting to a new life in a faraway land to good use as a Cuyamaca College Transfer Center coordinator and counselor, helping students navigate their way to a four-year college or university.
“The transition coming to the United States was not easy,” Blyumin recalled. “It’s a different culture, a different language. It’s not easy to move to another country. One of the reasons I wanted to work as a counselor was to help immigrants and others understand the educational system here and how it works and what they need to do to be successful.”
Blyumin immigrated with her parents when she was 20, settled in San Diego, and quickly enrolled in an English language school to learn the language. A year later, she began taking classes at Grossmont College. Associate degree in hand, she transferred to San Diego State University in 2002, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education.
While wrapping up her master’s degree, Blyumin worked as a Grossmont College counselor through an internship program sponsored by San Diego State and the San Diego & Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association (SDICCCA). The program places graduate students on a community college campus to work with a mentor in securing invaluable on-the-job experience, and Blyumin quickly found work as a part-time counselor at several community colleges – including Grossmont and Cuyamaca – upon earning her master’s degree.
Her skills and dedication led to a full-time job as a Cuyamaca College counselor in 2009. She is spending the spring semester as the Counseling Department’s acting chair.
Her colleagues say Blyumin is a pleasure to work with and a valuable part of Cuyamaca College.
“Amaliya is awesome,” said Cathy Fritz, a student services assistant in the counseling office. “She’s always putting students first.”
“First and foremost, our goal in this office is to find the best pathway for a student to get into a university,” she said. “And that’s not as simple as developing an education plan and deciding what classes to take. Those are important elements, but setting yourself up to transfer is a very strategic process. When to apply, where to apply, what to look for in a university.”
“Success for me,” Blyumin added, “is to be as honest as possible with our students and give them the information they need and the support they need to transfer to a university.”
The strategy is working. San Diego State on average accepts approximately 250 transfer students from Cuyamaca College annually, and UC San Diego accepts an additional 50 or so each year. Scores of other students transfer to four-year colleges and universities throughout the state and country.
“Amaliya is very good about staying up to date on all the transfer requirements from the different schools and on what students need to do to get where they want to go,” Fritz said.