Faculty Spotlight!

Miguel A. Perez, Professor
Public Health

Miguel Perez

Dr. Miguel A. Perez is a health educator whose work focuses on cultural competence and global health issues among adolescents. His collaborative work with colleagues at both Fresno State and other institutions has resulted in one textbook, two co-edited textbooks, about 15 book chapters, and over 50 peer-reviewed publications as well as numerous presentations (peer reviewed and invited) at local, state, national, and international conferences. Since arriving at Fresno State in 1999, Dr. Perez has received four Fulbright awards and has taught as well as conducted research in several Latin America, Africa, and Asia countries. His work has also earned him two honorary professorships, one at the Universidad Central del Este in the Dominican Republic and one at the Universidad Ricardo Palma in Peru.

Dr. Perez credits his desire for scientific inquiry to the lessons learned in his early childhood. As a child, he was a voracious reader, a skill facilitated by reading the daily newspaper to his illiterate father. As any “good” child he tried to get away with taking short cuts in doing homework figuring that his mother who had a third grade education would not know the difference, to this day he is uncertain as to how, but she always knew when he was being less than truthful with her. Those early lessons provide the foundation for his life-long quest for expanding his horizons and have served him well in his academic career. It is with a hint of nostalgia that he says “Thanks mom and dad for instilling such a good work ethic in me.”

Despite his desire for learning, Dr. Perez never considered an academic career until his junior year in college. Limited funds and a lack of familiarity with the higher education system were two of the biggest barriers to consider such a lofty goal; however, thanks to extraordinary mentorship by a number of people who hold a special place in his heart, Dr. Perez was able to achieve something that once seemed outside this reach. “Receiving my Ph.D., surrounded by family and friends was a humbling experience,” said Dr. Perez, “words will never fully express the depth of my gratitude especially to my sister Betty.”

Perez Mentoring Trip

Dr. Perez has enjoyed mentoring students over the years at Fresno State. From his early days as faculty liaison to the Health Careers Opportunity Program to his current service learning class in the Dominican Republic he has strived to pay forward what he received as a student. He is proud of his students and challenges them to overcome the many obstacles they face in their lives. He is particularly proud of those students who despite obstacles achieve their academic careers and chose to seek graduate level education, with many obtaining masters’ level degrees and three of them now holding doctoral degrees and working as faculty members.

In addition to his work in the classroom, Dr. Perez has provided his time and expertise to many professional and local organizations. In 2008, he was appointed by the State Superintendent of Education to the panel that drafted the Health Education Standards for grades K-12 in the State of California. In 2017, he was appointed by the Department of Education to the panel drafting the Health Education Framework for the State of California. These two documents provide the foundation for health education content in K-12 in the State.

Dr. Perez has received over 40 awards for his professional accomplishments and for his work with students. Notably among them, in 2009 Dr. Perez received both the Professional Service Award from the American Association of Health Educators and a Certificate of Recognition for Distinguished Accomplishments from the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. In 2013 he received the Faculty Mentor Award from the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State, and in 2015, Dr. Perez received the Corazón “Heart” Award for his work with Latino community health workers from Vision y Compromiso.

Reflecting on his years as a teacher, Dr. Perez advises his former self to “never miss an opportunity to listen to others, those few minutes of your life can be life altering to them.” He advises himself and others to learn from their mistakes and to never be afraid to try new things, “you never know what new doors of opportunity will be opened.”

In his continuing quest for improving his pedagogical skills, Dr. Perez has participated in a number of programs designed to expand his teaching toolbox. By far the most important tools obtained in that process have been the trainings provided by the Center for Faculty Excellence and its predecessors here at Fresno State. His teaching has improved through myriad trainings offered by CFE and his participation in the DISCOVERe program has provided skills he uses in the classroom on a daily basis. CFE has also been a good place to interact with like-minded individuals, expand horizons, and meet the best Instructional Designers in the business.

Dr. Perez earned his bachelor’s degree in research in Mental Health at California State University, Dominguez Hills and his Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in health education at the Pennsylvania State University. He is blessed to count on the support of his loving wife Helda, also a faculty member at Fresno State, and their marvelous children.