Scholar Stories

Janice Cole

Janice is a graduate student in Counselor Education and Rehabilitation with an emphasis on Marriage and Family Counseling. Both she and her elder son will be college students this academic year. She has suffered with the pain of fibromyalgia for 23 years and has learned how to cope with it using various techniques including therapy. In addition, her two sons have severe hemophilia. As a result her family has been very involved with the Hemophilia Foundation where her role has evolved over the past 15 years from being a recipient of support to a volunteer providing support for newly diagnosed families dealing with this condition. After graduation she would like to work with programs that empower women who have been affected by domestic violence and children who have experienced grief and loss. She plans to incorporate her undergraduate training in Fine Arts to become a certified Art Therapist to explore ways of healing others using guided art therapy techniques.

Victoria Sanchez

Victoria is a graduate student pursuing a Special Education Teaching Credential. She came to the United States with her parents when she was two years old. Her work as a substitute teacher's assistant nurtured her love of working with children with special needs and led her to pursue a credential to work in a classroom setting after receiving her undergraduate degree. She has been active in Alpha Pi Sigma, a Latina Sorority, whose mission is to develop women leaders who can give back to their communities. Her ultimate goal is to earn a Master of Arts degree in Special Education which she feels will make her a more effective classroom teacher.

 Adriana Velasco

Adriana is a post baccalaureate student in the dual credential program working towards a Multiple Subject Credential and Educational Specialist Credential. She is the eldest of four siblings with Mexican farm working parents. Growing up, her family had very little which motivated her to pursue a college education even though her family was not able to help financially. Last year she had a health scare which left her with medical debt. She sees her education as an opportunity to offer a better life for her family and her community. After getting her degree she plans to work with disadvantaged children and adolescent youth organizations to teach the values of advocacy, integrity and service to others, and to broaden awareness of their rich cultural heritages among minorities.

Xang Yang

Xang is a senior majoring in Psychology. He came to the United States in 2005 and started school without knowing a word of English. His parents are elderly, disabled and do not speak English. Consequently Xang has taken on the responsibility of taking them to medical appointments, shopping and interpreting for them. His interest in psychology developed as he began to compare the beliefs of his parents' generation, especially on medical matters, with the findings of Western medicine. He believes that the information he gets in his psychology courses will enable him to understand human behavior and its problems more fully. He is active in the Golden Key International Honor Society which works to support and recognize academic achievement, leadership and service. He has volunteered in setting up an event called "From the Hill to the City" to help the community become familiar with Hmong people and their culture. His goal is to earn a Ph.D in Psychology and work as a psychologist to help members of the Hmong community understand their problems.

Alexandra Gallo

Alexandra is a Junior majoring in Political Science and Communications. Her family life was fractured at an early age by a father plagued by substance abuse but she was able to reach out and make friends who supported her and gave her security. At 18 she was homeless and lived with her friends on a rotating basis. Uprooting from her home in Hollister and coming to Fresno State proved to be another challenge. However she has been able to find a niche in this new community. By volunteering at the Bulldog Pantry, the Ronald McDonald House and Camp Kesem for children affected by cancer as well as becoming an Ambassador for the Richter Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning she is realizing how satisfying it is to help other people. She plans to become a lawyer and represent young people who seek help as she did when she was younger.

Claudia Garcia

Claudia is a Junior majoring in the Nursing Program. She was born in Miami, the granddaughter of Cuban refugees and was brought up with a strong sense of responsibility towards family and community.  Her immediate family faced many financial difficulties so she decided to work fulltime after high school to help support her family while taking classes at the community college. After her stepfather had a stroke she became his primary caretaker ensuring that he attended physical therapy sessions and organizing the family’s finances. She was finally able to finish her Associate’s degree at Consumnes River College and transfer to the Nursing Program at Fresno State. Her admiration of the nurses and the care they gave her stepfather during his recovery made her realize that nursing was the profession she wanted to join. She plans to work in the health care system to help heal others both physically and emotionally.

Nicole Owens

Nicole is a Junior majoring in Sociology. She has turned her life around after a tumultuous period following the death of her father from a heart attack and her mother’s severe bipolar disorder. Her loss at that time led to addictive behavior culminating in a short prison sentence and the loss of her son to Child Protective Services. Since then she has completed a rehabilitation program, regained full custody of her son and completed an Associate’s Degree at Fresno City College. She plans to get her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Fresno State followed by a Master’s degree in Social Work. Her long term goal is to use her education and experiences to help individuals facing difficulties that leave them feeling helpless.