Scoring on the Field and in the Classroom

During Fresno State’s recent Homecoming football game against division rival San José State, Bulldogs fans heard a number of familiar names during the play-by-play broadcast: “Another great rush by Jordan Mims!” “That’s the fourth sack of the game by David Perales!” “Nikko Remigio scores!” “A great stop by Elijah Gates!” 

Fans might be surprised to learn that these talented football players, along with 17 of their teammates and three graduate assistant coaches, are Kremen School students! They are among the 125 students currently pursuing an M.A. degree in Education, Curriculum and Instruction option (M.A.Ed.-C&I).

“The athletes who are recruited to Fresno State and are admitted to our program bring a rich diversity to the classroom in terms of ethnicity and race, life experiences, perspectives, and goals,” said Program Coordinator Dr. Carol Fry Bohlin. “Many are also first generation college students who have a passion for giving back to Fresno State and their communities.”

Star wide receiver Nikko Remigio ran for a touchdown in the thrilling last minute of the October 30 game against San Diego State to secure a win for the Bulldogs. Remigio was recruited by Fresno State after he earned a B.S. in Legal Studies from U.C. Berkeley. He’s proud of his mixed-race Filipino/Black/White heritage and wants to make the world a better, more just place for all people, especially through judicial system reforms.

Dontae Bull is another Bulldogs player who is enrolled in the master’s program. Bull, a 6’7″, 320-pound offensive lineman from Canada, helped to hoist the large silver “V” Valley Trophy in the air following the Bulldogs’ 17-10 victory over the Spartans after the Homecoming game. He is a valued role model as a youth life skills coach and is considering starting a school for children with learning difficulties. 

Defensive end David Perales believes that the M.A.Ed.-C&I program will help him learn the necessary skills to be an effective football coach. “Coaching incorporates many instructional elements and also requires motivating players, just like teaching,” said Perales. 

Jordan Mims and Elijah Gates are on target to graduate this semester with their master’s degree. “They are both insightful and thoughtful in their work,” said Dr. Rohit Mehta, their master’s project advisor. “Elijah is studying the racial experience of Black and Brown students in higher education, and Jordan is studying personal challenges and wellness among student athletes of color.”

In a recent interview, Mims said he selected this particular master’s program because the coursework topics are broad. The courses cover curriculum, instruction, research design, statistical analysis, learning theories, and educational technology. 

This knowledge can help him now and in any field he goes into after his playing and coaching careers are over. “Football clearly brought me here,” said Mims. “But no one can take away your degree.”

Gates added that he has developed a love for going to school and expanding his horizons as a result of the program. He feels that by coaching and teaching, he can be an inspiration to youth and make a positive difference in the lives of future student athletes.

Many of the Bulldogs football players enrolled in the master’s program credit the many Pre K-12 classroom teachers also enrolled in the program for teaching them about the educational process from a teacher’s point of view. Jade Muñoz, a teacher in the program, notes that the players have in turn helped the teachers understand the positive impact that extracurricular activities such as sports have on students’ academic success through teaching structure, discipline, teamwork, and responsibility.

Recent graduate and middle school science teacher Adam Powell agrees. For him, athletics was a safe place to learn how to work hard as a teammate and how to take a loss – all life skills.  Powell also believes that competition, so ingrained in sports, “is an inherently human trait that can be approached humbly for personal growth and enrichment.”

The eclectic mix of students in the program “energizes the class,” notes Dr. Susan Schlievert, who is teaching four dozen master’s students in the M.A.Ed.-C&I program this semester. “A third-grade teacher, a physician, a middle school science teacher, a firefighter, a high school art teacher, a surgical technician, a star football player, a private school principal— all of them, and so many more, come to my class and share knowledge, perceptions, and friendship,” said Schlievert.

Wherever the athletes may go after graduation, they will bring Fresno State and these educational experiences and friendships with them! They are ambassadors for our university throughout the state and nation, and they are determined to make a positive impact in the world, especially in the lives of those they plan to coach and teach! Go ‘Dogs!

For more information about our special student-athletes, please contact Terry Tumey, Fresno State’s Athletic Director, at (559) 278-2643. 

Here’s a link to another student success story.

(Written by Dr. Carol Fry Bohlin, Program Director, Curriculum and Instruction)

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