Meet The Kremen Communications Team

Fresno State’s mission is to promote student success and support academic goals, facilitate student engagement, learning and leadership, while providing quality student-centered services and programs with integrity and professionalism. In order to accomplish this undertaking, our college relies on teamwork, collaboration and a broad range of skill sets belonging to a burgeoning pool of creative minds. Here at the Kremen School of Education and Development, we strive to emulate this approach by relying on a vast array of talents, perspectives, backgrounds, and specialities. Following this model allows us to provide the highest quality of education, assistance, and guidance to those we serve. We encourage creativity and compassion in the workplace and appreciate the unique capabilities of each member of our staff. 

The Kremen Communications Team is an ideal reflection of this mission. Here, we promote the numerous programs, initiatives, clubs, organizations, and projects that are housed within the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. Our team ensures that students and visitors are kept up-to-date with the latest events, seminars, and career fairs happening both within Kremen and on the extended campus. We also spotlight the many revered faculty members, program leaders, and talented students who study within the school. It is our mission to shed light on the wonderful work and progress made possible by the Kremen community, as they continue to grow and prosper. Every time an award is issued, a body of work published, or a degree awarded, we ensure that the individual responsible for the accomplishment is highlighted on all of our platforms. We believe that the tremendous strides our students, teachers, and faculty have made deserve formal recognition. 

Our team is unique as it is comprised of a mixture of student assistants, interns, and communication specialists. We have a vast array of talented article writers, social media promoters, videographers, photographers, web designers, and graphic artists who are constantly producing content to be featured not only on the Kremen site, but also through our blog posts, social media uploads, and newsletter releases. We allow interns to mentor with a professional in their field of study, whether that be creative writing, photography, or computer technology. By receiving guidance and training, these interns are able to acquire valuable career skills and polish their resumes for future positions. Our communication assistants also learn how to develop professionalism and improve their craft as they are presented with assignments to strengthen their skills, while also earning money to assist with tuition and housing costs. To learn more about our gifted team members you can explore our newly constructed Communications Team website which houses their finished work and numerous accomplishments! 

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing student employed by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development .)

Faculty Spotlight: Varaxy Yi Borromeo

Varaxy Yi Borromeo

Varaxy Yi Borromeo, an assistant professor in Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL), has been recently selected to receive the 2022 AERA Research on the Education of Asian Pacific Americans SIG Early Career Award. She also currently serves as the coordinator of the HEAL graduate program and as core faculty in the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. She was drawn to Fresno State as an institution for several reasons. Firstly, she was born and raised in Modesto, so the institution was close to home. Second, Fresno State is an extremely diverse institution holding both Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution designations. This is especially important to Varaxy because she desires to work and serve a community that represents both her background and identities. She loves being in a diverse classroom and learning from amazing students, leaders, and professionals. Varaxy has been a faculty member at Fresno State since fall 2018.

Varaxy is constantly being uplifted and supported by an amazing group of mentors, guides, and colleagues. She is extremely grateful to her nominators and co-conspirators, Dr. Jacqueline Mac (Northern Illinois University), Vanessa Na (University of California, San Diego [UCSD]), and Amy Wang (UCSD). She considers them all wonderful souls and has the honor of calling them friends and family. She is also grateful to the SEAAsterScholars Collective of Southeast Asian American (SEAA)-identifying women who are committed to advancing knowledge with and by SEAA members, as well as, her advisor and friend, Dr. Samuel Museus for supporting her work and providing her with the skills and training necessary to contribute important knowledge about Asian American and SEAA communities. She is also thankful for all the Asian American and SEAA elders who provided a foundation for her to be able to advance the work of her community and to her department chair and program colleagues for their support.

            Currently, Varaxy holds bachelor’s degrees in both Business Administration and English (University of the Pacific), a master’s in Library and Information Science (San Jose State University), and a Ph.D. in Higher Education (University of Denver). She teaches graduate-level courses in higher education administration and leadership and in the doctoral program, including contemporary issues in higher education, education reform, and qualitative research. She has learned that it’s not just about doing good work and contributing knowledge but how you do it that matters. Leaning into the collectivist, interdependent ways of knowing and doing that her family taught her has helped Varaxy build meaningful relationships with collaborators and co-conspirators who understand that this work is never meant to be done alone. She resists individualistic ways of thinking and doing and finds great inspiration working with like-minded individuals. When the work is draining, she finds fulfillment in supporting others and receiving support—she knows that she is never alone, something that has made her career fulfilling and joyful.

            Varaxy will be receiving the SIG Early Career Award  at the American Educational Research Association in San Diego, California on April 3, 2022. She states that it is very exciting and spirit-lifting to have her work recognized. As a first-generation Khmer American college graduate and faculty, to be recognized in such a way by her scholar-community is both validating and affirming. She is the first in her family to attend and complete college, thus it has been a journey of navigating unknowns and uncertainties. She is excited that her work is being honored because it also means the effort her family put into coming here as refugees is visible to the world. Varaxy explains how they are the backbone that made this all possible.

She plans to continue conducting research on the experiences of SEAA students via both asset-based ways and utilizing critical theories of race to explore the racialized experiences of SEAA students. Varaxy is also collaborating with colleagues to conduct case studies of three CSU AANAPISIs and the contexts that shape how they support SEAA students. She is especially excited to work with SEAA graduate students interested in similar topics. If there are current SEAA grads interested in research, she is happy to offer training and support. One of her major goals is to build a robust pipeline of SEAA students into higher education and student affairs.

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing Student, Employed by The Kremen School of Education and Human Development)

Faculty Spotlight: Soua Xiong

Soua Xiong

Soua Xiong was nominated to receive the 2022 AERA Research on the Education of Asian Pacific Americans SIG Early Career Award. This award is presented to an early career scholar whose program of research has had a significant impact on our understanding of Asian Americans and/or Pacific Islanders in the field of education. A significant impact refers to a program of research and practice that has meaningfully advanced knowledge and understanding in the field. The award will be formally presented to Soua at the SIG Business Meeting which will take place at 6pm on Saturday, April 23rd, at the San Diego Convention Center.

Soua received both his bachelor and master degrees from Fresno State. His BA is in Psychology and his MS is in Counseling. His PhD is in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State University. He first ended up at the Kremen School in 2009 as a graduate student, before finishing with his master’s degree in Counseling in 2011. Shortly after that, he was selected as the Graduate Dean’s Medalist for the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. He is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation and also serves as the Coordinator of the Student Affairs and College Counseling program. He teaches foundations of student services in higher education, applying counseling skills to student affairs practice, and supervises graduate students in the completion of their master’s projects and internships. He has been at Fresno State for over 14 years as a student, staff, and now faculty member.

Soua would like to give a shout out to Dr. J. Luke Wood from San Diego State University and Dr. Song E. Lee from Fresno State. He says that he wouldn’t be where he is at this stage of his academic career without their continued support, guidance, and mentorship. He also would like to include a heartfelt mention of his multiple communities of encouragement. First and foremost, he would like to thank God, followed by his family, friends, and colleagues. He is also eternally grateful to his Department Chair (Dr. Becton), Associate Dean (Dr. Pitt Parker), and Dean (Dr. Randy Yerrick) for their continued support as he coordinates a graduate program as the sole full-time faculty member in addition to all of his other roles and responsibilities as a faculty member.

Being an educator is something that Soua is very passionate about and something he continues to enjoy every single day. He has had the opportunity to prepare and train aspiring student affairs professionals with the counseling training they need to effectively address the holistic needs of college students from diverse backgrounds. What he enjoys most about the teaching experience is the opportunity to learn with and from his students. They bring a wealth of knowledge, background, and experience that greatly enhance the learning environment.

However, Soua’s work doesn’t simply stop inside the classroom. He wants to keep developing a community of scholars committed to advancing our knowledge and understanding of Hmong students in higher education. That is why he created the Xiong Research Group to provide leadership, research mentorship, and monthly capacity-building workshops so that others can learn the academic research process, become critical consumers of research and producers of knowledge on the Hmong college student experience using asset-based frameworks. Currently, his research team (Xiong Research Group) is conducting a national qualitative study to explore the factors that positively shaped the experiences and outcomes of Hmong students in higher education (The Hmong College Student Success Project). Rather than focus on barriers and challenges of Hmong students, this project is a retrospective trajectory analysis using Harper’s (2010) anti-deficit achievement framework to explore factors that allowed them to access, thrive, and succeed in higher education.

He is committed to using his own research to elevate and amplify the voices and experiences of Southeast Asian Americans (SEAAs) in higher education. This strand of his research agenda has focused on 1) engagement of SEAA male students, 2) SEAA community college students, and 3) Hmong students specifically. Rather than use deficit-oriented research approaches and frameworks that perpetuate deficit perspectives and narratives of SEAA students, their community, and culture, he plans to continue using asset-based approaches and frameworks to guide his research in this area of study. After hearing that he would be presented with the Early Career Award, Soua was incredibly honored and even more determined to continue his area of research. He is grateful for the recognition and the progress which his team has made, something that continues driving him toward future success.

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing Student, Employed by The Kremen School of Education and Human Development)

Teacher Appreciation: Honoring Those Who Help Mentor and Shape the Future of Academia.

Educators work tirelessly to ensure the success and well-being of the next generation of students by guiding them through the rough waters of academic life. Kremen recognizes this immense contribution and to show their support, they have launched a donation program starting Tuesday, January 11th, where they will be honoring their “Mentor Teachers” who have taken time to work with several credential candidates over the past semester.

Kremen partners with over 20 district partners every semester to place their single subject, education specialist, and multiple subject credential candidates. To give back, they have created a “Mentor Teacher Appreciation Gift Bag” which includes 450 $5 gift cards from Dutch Bro’s (a generous donation amounting in a total value of $2,250), a Mentor-Teacher Self Care Brochure, an assortment of Fresno State items such as business cards, lanyards, pens, sticky pads, as well as, a Thank You Letter with a small bag of candy attached to the note. These gift bags are a way to help mentor teachers know how special they are to everyone that is associated with Kremen and to the student’s whose lives have been impacted by their kindness and generosity.

Some of the key members involved with this kind-hearted initiative include Dean Yerrick,  Jenelle Pitt Parker, Juliet Wahleithner, and Felipe Mercado, with generous support from Bonnie Inthisane and Navneet Kaur who assisted with the assembly of the gift bags. In order to calculate the proper amount of Mentor Teacher Appreciation Bags, the Kremen Department evaluated the amount of fall placements to see how many mentor teachers resided in each district. The total amount of bags equated to 450 after calculation, Clovis and Fresno receiving the most, 105 bags split between the two, with Visalia following, along with Coalinga, Porterville, Cowchilla, Madera and many others. The outreach effort spanned the entire South Valley, covering counties both large and small.

This initiative was launched in the hopes of reinvigorating mentor teachers and encouraging new ones, especially during difficult times of the year. Dean Yerrick and Felipe Mercado will be personally handing out the vast majority of these gift bags to their assigned recipients. When the districts heard of this upcoming donation, they were extremely thankful, their hearts warming as they realized just how appreciated they are by the Kremen community.

(Written by Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing student employed by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.)

Paving a path to success for Latinx communities

Dedicated to transforming Hispanic Serving Institutions and transforming a campus environment that builds a sense of belonging from enrollment to graduation.

Future educator Dori Trujillo is studying at Fresno State, working her way toward earning a multiple subject teaching credential. After graduating in the summer of 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies, Trujillo knew her next step was to become an educator. What she didn’t know was that it would lead her to becoming a project assistant with Enseñamos en el Valle Central.

Enseñamos en el Valle Central is an innovative collaboration between Fresno State, Fresno City College and Reedley College that focuses on strengthening pathways for underrepresented future educators.

“With Enseñamos, I learned to appreciate my bilingualism as the beautiful asset it is,” said Trujillo.

Enseñamos responds to the many intricate challenges higher education poses, such as connecting with faculty and peers, obtaining academic counseling and mentoring support, interpreting degree plans and meeting graduation requirements.

“Enseñamos en el Valle Central places a strong emphasis on fostering a sense of belonging for students,” said Dr. Patricia D. López, director of the Enseñamos initiative and assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at Fresno State.

“We are intentional about going above mere enrollment of Latinx students and work hard to transform and influence how the institution reflects the students we serve. Our programmatic events are contributing fundamentally to a campus culture that affirms the rich history and cultural contributions of Latinx communities in the Central Valley,” said Lopez.

Fresno State has seen a drastic increase in incoming first-generation students of Hispanic ethnicity, particularly in the past couple years. In 2016, 52.6% of the student body was composed of incoming Hispanic students. That increased to 59.4% in 2020, representing well over half of the campus population. Some colleges, such as the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, saw an even greater increase, catapulting from 59.2% in 2016 to 70.8% in 2020.

One of the many factors that have contributed to the increase in Hispanic students pursuing higher education in the Kremen School is the $3.75 million Title V grant, Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, which created the foundation for the Enseñamos initiative to launch in 2018. Over the past four years, the initiative has flourished and taken shape, promoting the success of future Latinx teachers.

Nearly 65% of Fresno State students are the first generation in their families to earn a college degree, which can change the future trajectory of their lives.

“Many first-generation students are left estranged by higher education through often tedious and confusing processes and a lack of connection to faculty and courses that are detached from their communities and experiences,” said López. “These institutional roadblocks leave students feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, at times squeezing them out of the system altogether.”

Programs such as Enseñamos en el Valle Central respond to these ongoing patterns by focusing on institutional barriers while building up first-generation students to navigate higher education, allowing them to begin their educational journey with peace of mind.

“I have felt I can count on my colleagues as family,” said Trujillo. “I’ve found the best mentorship in our director, Dr. López. The way she advocates for students like me inspires me to build the same environment in my future classroom.”

Adding to the need for more support to Latinx students is a growing demand to increase the number of Latinx teachers, particularly those who can teach in bilingual classrooms. Minority students in higher education at times feel out of place or have experienced alienation among their peers. Having professors who are culturally affirming, approachable and who represent the diverse Latinx culture, allow students to feel more at ease and less isolated in the classroom. They are more likely to engage and ask for assistance if they feel seen and are given a warm and inviting learning environment.

Through collaboration the Enseñamos initiative begins working with students at the high school and community college level — providing counseling guidance and strengthening transfer pathways into Fresno State, structuring a smooth transition through higher education and providing continuous support to enter teaching credential programs.

López has spent the past four years collaborating with students, staff, faculty and community members, watching her vision grow as the program continues expanding.

Enseñamos en el Valle Central has gained traction alongside growing recognition of minority-serving institutions and the critical role they play in serving diverse students of color who are increasingly the face of higher education.

This includes a recent proclamation by President Joseph R. Biden declaring Sept. 12 through 18 as National Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week:

“I call on public officials, educators, and all the people of the United States to observe this week with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that acknowledge the many ways these institutions and their graduates contribute to our country.”

Enseñamos en el Valle Central continues to exemplify the goal of expanding educational opportunities and improving academic and career attainment among Latinx students. This fall they are kicking off a fall Plática and Taller series that centers art, culture, identity and healing, as a way to inspire dialogue among diverse communities and thoughtfully consider what it means to serve Central Valley communities. Events are open to all and can be found on their website along with an inventory of past events such as their highly successful anti-racism series during the 2019-20 academic year.

While many of these events transpire during specific windows of time, Enseñamos understands that students have extremely busy schedules with class conflicts so to guarantee equal access for all participants, they record each event and post details to their website which can be found at this link here.

(Written by Audra Burwell, a creative writing student, and assistant professor Patricia D. López)

Fresno State employees prioritize self-care

Close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Exhale slowly and repeat.

Dedicating time to improve your personal well-being or mental health requires intentional acts. Meditation, exercise, eating healthy and going outside are all acts which aid self-care. 

Traditionally, self-care was thought to be something practiced at home or on the weekends. That is changing at Fresno State.

The Kremen School of Education and Human Development has formed a Staff Development Committee aimed at fostering camaraderie, team building, providing professional development and making work-life balance a priority for the school’s staff members.  

It all started in 2014 when the school went on a retreat to the E.D.G.E. Challenge Ropes Course on campus. This activity allowed Kremen School staff to engage in teamwork, leadership, self-esteem, creativity and personal awareness experiences. 

Every year since, staff members have found ways to connect with one another and build relationships outside of academic support. 

“Getting a chance to visit with staff that we may not see on a daily basis or may not cross paths with consistently is a great way to stay connected and know one another,” said Jessica McVay, academic advisor. “I want to know everyone and let them get a chance to know me so that they feel comfortable asking me for help or maybe one day I can turn to them for help. Having structured activities is such a great way to bond and get a break from the office. It’s a great treat for everyone.” 

The Staff Development Committee organizes monthly activities throughout the academic year. Activities have included potlucks, holiday gift exchanges, walks to Gibson Farm Market for ice cream, visits to the campus’ Downing Planetarium, yoga and meditation, and many others. 

With the onset of COVID-19, the committee had to get creative. Monthly virtual events were something new for each committee member. They had to find a way to engage staff and maintain a sense of connectedness.  

The pandemic put added stressors on everyone and the committee found unique ways to focus on the self-care and mental health of their peers.

Staff mentioned that one of their favorite activities over the 2020-21 academic year was the art therapy activity. The American Art Therapy Association characterizes art therapy as an approach to mental health that utilizes the process of creating art to improve mental, physical and emotional wellness. Staff were provided with paint by sticker books and together were able to create art virtually.

Throughout the pandemic, staff also stayed connected by sharing their favorite apps, attending a presentation on Effective Communication in the Workplace, and they watched a documentary about the impact social media can have and discussed how this is important when communicating with students. 

Dr. Jenelle Pitt Parker, the Kremen School’s new associate dean, was excited to learn about the committee’s work. 

“In engaging in all of the work that we do on campus, at home, in our communities, it is so vital that self-care is intentional,” said Pitt Parker. “I think about the ways that I fall short in this category and then I am reminded..better yet supported by colleagues who are also engaged in the work. Having folks in your corner that will support you in intentionally caring for yourself is one of the best ways to partner in the work environment, stay productive, and remain engaged in the work for the long haul.”

Fresno State’s strategic plan prioritizes the investment in a dynamic environment to attract, develop, and retain talented and diverse faculty and staff. 

“I think of the ways in which self-care and well being is such a strong part of that call in my opinion,” said Pitt Parker. “I know for me, I am at my very best when I have attended to my self-care and well being. I have recognized myself to be more abundant, creative, and innovative which I can then apply to tasks at hand and terrain we’re seeking to navigate in higher education.”

For the 2021-22 academic year, a new group of staff join the committee and are excited to be able to plan in-person gatherings again. Focusing on self-care and strengthening comradery among staff members is a continued priority at the Kremen School.

Get to know Kremen’s newest faculty members

The Kremen School of Education and Human Development is proud to introduce five of our newest faculty members to Fresno State. We have faculty who is a CSU graduate and faculty from Taiwan and Turkey. Collectively they offer a wide range of expertise and we are excited for them to share their vast knowledge with our Fresno State community.

Dr. Christina Bosch 

Assistant Professor
Department of Literacy, Early, Bilingual and Special Education

Dr. Christina Anderson Bosch is an incoming assistant professor in the department of Literacy, Early, Bilingual and Special Education at Fresno State with a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her Fulbright-funded dissertation contributes to comparative special education research through a mixed-methods survey validation study exploring how school-based educators define and practice “inclusion”, as it relates to students with “special education needs”, in the wake of massive socio-economic inclusive education reforms in Chile.

Most of her doctoral research focused on developing a context-responsive, universally-designed, inquiry science tablet app to address the illegal dearth of educational access common in juvenile justice facilities. Bosch has taught and facilitated co-design research/evaluation in these settings, community-based alternative education for young mothers, nonprofit educational organizations and independently-operated public charter schools in her hometown of Washington, DC.

She also holds master’s degrees in Mind, Brain and Education from Harvard University and Special Education with a concentration in Learning Disabilities from American University, as well as a B.A. in English from the University of Vermont. She is interested in advancing the politics, programs and policies that support robust public education systems where youth, workers and families from the full spectrum of cultural backgrounds thrive.

Dr. Yasar Nur Dedeoglu 

Assistant Professor
Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation

Dr. Yasar Nur Dedeoglu is joining the Kremen School as an assistant professor in the department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation. Dedeoglu earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychological Counseling and Guidance from Hacettepe University in Turkey. Originally from Turkey, she earned a study abroad scholarship to pursue her graduate studies in the United States when she was working as a school counselor in Istanbul, Turkey.

She obtained her master’s degree in Counselor Education with a concentration in School Counseling from Ohio University and a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from the Pennsylvania State University.

Dedeoglu has experience working with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds in a variety of settings including schools, mental health clinics, private practice and career centers. She is passionate about sharing her experiences with her students and train future counselors as leaders, advocates, collaborators and system change agents. She is also dedicated to research and service to help marginalized children and teens overcoming the systemic barriers to their wellness and academic success.

Dr. Ramar Henderson

Assistant Professor
Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation

Dr. Ramar Henderson is joining us from the University of Southern Indiana where he taught in the College of Science, Engineering and Education. He may have traveled far to get here, but he isn’t new to the CSU system. Henderson completed a B.A. in Sociology from CSU Sacramento and an M.S. in Kinesiology from CSU Long Beach before he went across the country to earn a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

Henderson is passionate about helping future human service professionals increase their sensitivity to the narratives of marginalized people. He is also passionate about mentorship and how it can be used to help students thrive as people and professionals. 

Dr. Kristina Rios 

Assistant Professor
Department of Literacy, Early, Bilingual and Special Education

Dr. Kristina Rios is an assistant professor of Special Education. Her research interests include parent advocacy for Latinx families of children with significant disabilities. Rios’ research examines how Latinx parents advocate for services for their children with disabilities. Additionally, Rios conducts research examining the impact of special education on parental stress and well-being.

To address this gap in the literature, Rios developed a dedicated research program on Latinx families of children with significant disabilities, the systemic barriers they face in the education system and interventions geared at mitigating disparities and improving outcomes in this demographic. Specifically, Rios conceptualized and implemented a twelve-hour advocacy training intervention: Familias Incluidas en Recibiendo Mejor Educación Especial, also known as Families Included in Receiving Better Special Education, a training program for Latinx families of children with disabilities. The purpose of this advocacy program is to help Latinx parents increase their special education knowledge, advocacy, empowerment, receipt of services and decrease stress.

Dr. Wei-Mo Tu 

Assistant Professor
Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation

Dr. Wei-Mo Tu has a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Graduate Institute of Rehabilitation Counseling at the National Changhua University of Education in Taiwan and a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tu is a certified rehabilitation counselor and was a full-time supported employment specialist and vocational evaluator in a community-based rehabilitation agency in Taiwan. During his doctoral training, Tu received advanced clinical training at the Journey Mental Health Center, the Wisconsin Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center in William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, and the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center providing mental health counseling, vocational rehabilitation counseling, and neuropsychological assessment.

Tu worked as an assistant professor at the University of North Texas for three years. His areas of interest are psychosocial outcomes of people with disabilities, counselor education, as well as measurements and psychometrics. He has published seventeen research articles in refereed journals and two book chapters.