First-Generation Matters at All Levels of Education

First-generation means many things to the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State. Traditionally first-generation means students who are the first in their family to attend and complete an undergraduate degree. But at the Kremen School, it doesn’t end there. First-generation means a student may be the first in their family to enroll in a graduate or doctoral program. Or a student may be the first in their family to become a teacher, counselor or educational leader.

The Kremen School believes first-generation students at all levels deserve support and the opportunity to have a mentor who has been through similar circumstances.

That is why Dr. Laura Alamillo, Interim Dean of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, has launched the First-Generation Matters mentorship program.

This mentorship program connects first-generation students to first-generation faculty and staff mentors. Students receive the opportunity to build connections with faculty and staff who have been in their shoes and understand some of the hurdles first-generation students go through. Mentors help guide students to see the different pathways they can take in their education and career. They also support students through professional development and assist with any challenges they may have.

The First-Generation Matters mentorship program provides support to first-generation students not just for the journey through college but also the journey into their career.

Dean Alamillo has always had a passion for supporting first-generation students. When she realized Fresno State was not offering a first-gen mentorship program, she jumped at the opportunity to start one.

This program is available currently to Kremen School students but hopefully will grow to provide these relationships and resources to all first-gen Fresno State students.

Kicking the year off with a bash!

First-Generation Matters hosted their first-ever event on August 31. Connecting mentors and mentees and sharing inspiring stories. A handful of mentors spoke to a room of almost 70 first-gen students.


The mentor’s stories were moving and relatable for many of the students in the room. Some shared how they migrated to the United States and others shared how their families did not understand the path to higher education.

The unique aspect of this program is that the mentors are also first-gen. They can relate to these students on a deeper level. Learn more about the program here.

Passionate for Science, Mrs. Click Becomes All-Star Teacher of the Year Finalist

It was a Thursday night in late June at AT&T Park. The San Francisco Giants were preparing for their series opener against the San Diego Padres. Mrs. Jennifer Click, Fresno State graduate student studying Curriculum and Instruction, prepared to go on the field for the NBC Sports All-Star Teacher of the Year ceremony.

Mrs. Click is a science teacher at Edison High School in Fresno Unified and was nominated for the All-Star Teacher of the Year award by a former student. She has spent the past nine years at Edison High School encouraging students to become passionate about chemistry and physics.

Jennifer Click 175W“My favorite thing about my job is getting students excited about science. There are so many cool things about the topic and so many things to learn that help explain the world around us. I love the diversity and community of Edison. It truly is remarkable to see all students come together for common goals. I LOVE my students. What other job has such a direct impact on young people? They are so creative and have such different personalities that every day is a cool new adventure.”
– Jennifer Click, Science Teacher 

All_Star_Teacher_Logo 150x150Being recognized as a finalist for the All-Star Teacher Award, Mrs. Click won $2,000 for her school. She plans to use the funds to jumpstart a Tiger Tutors program in which high school students travel to elementary schools and read books and tutor younger students. The Tiger Tutors program is an expansion of her current club, E-City Pantry Club. The E-City Pantry Club focuses on hygiene and community outreach. Over the past three years, thousands of personal hygiene packs have been donated to local schools, community centers, and shelters.

As a Fresno State alumni, Mrs. Click cares greatly for the community and the children we serve. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences, Chemistry and a dual single subject teaching credential in Chemistry and Physics.

Passionate about science, she decided to become a teacher. She wants students to be inspired to learn about their world and ask critical questions about what they see. She also wants to connect with students on a personal level and let them know someone cares about them.

Deciding to continue her education, Mrs. Click enrolled in the MA in Education, Curriculum and Instruction program last Fall.

“I love curriculum and instruction. I write virtually all of my classroom curriculum and am always trying to find innovative instruction techniques. I love getting students to understand complex material (chemistry) and think that it is all about setting them up with good curriculum and solid instruction.”
– Jennifer Click, Science Teacher

Mrs. Click plans to graduate with her master’s degree in Spring 2019 and hopes to write curriculum on a larger scale and become more active in teacher education.

Learn more about Fresno State’s graduate programs in Education and Teaching.

2018 Kremen Dean’s Medalists

Elizabeth_Barba_PlacenciaUndergraduate Dean’s Medalist

Elizabeth Barba Placencia
Undergraduate Degree Program: Liberal Studies

Fresno State is a transformational university and Elizabeth is the perfect embodiment of someone who is dedicated to transforming the life of others as she pursues her own continued education and career. Her parents immigrated from Mexico when Elizabeth was an infant to give their children a new life. Elizabeth is now a citizen but is proud of where she came from and what she is achieving as a first-generation university student. She is working hard so she can educate students who also have a chance to achieve great things.

Elizabeth has been involved at John Burroughs Elementary since January of 2016, assisting teachers, monitoring recess, helping at stations and assisting in the office. She received a certificate of recognition for her support and dedication to John Burroughs. For two academic years, Elizabeth was a member of Jumpstart Corp. She assisted at Kings Canyon Head Start with caring for children, tutored children ages 3-5 in kindergarten readiness, directed activities of small groups, and facilitated communication skills training. She was recognized as a future team leader by Jumpstart.

An even more important service related to preparation to be a teacher has been her work with our Office of Community Based Learning (CBL) Youth Technology Institute STEM program. She has been an instructor for STEM classes, planning her own lessons as well as providing take home STEM activities for students to do with their parents. CBL project director, Kasey Vang, wrote that in her work, Elizabeth has “demonstrated thoughtfulness, leadership skills, collaborative abilities, commitment to helping others, and a strong understanding of the struggles facing many of our students, particularly those students for whom English is a second language.

Elizabeth herself is tri-lingual, not only speaking English and Spanish, but also being fluent in French which she has studied for eight years. Her focus on STEM, her dedication to teaching, her linguistic ability, makes her the perfect candidate for our Fresno Teacher Residency program, our premiere educator preparation track. The program provides a stipend while allowing candidates to earn both their teaching credential and master’s degree while preparing them for a three-year commitment to teach in Fresno Unified School District. We are confident she will succeed there as she has succeeded at the University so far.

Christina_MaciasGraduate Dean’s Medalist

Christina Macias
Graduate Degree Program: Master of Arts in Education with an option in Early Childhood Education

Christina first graduated from Fresno State in Biology, followed by ten years a biologist for the state of California. She left that position and created a private preschool with a commitment to provide responsive, relationship­ based care to very young children and began an intensive inquiry into child development, attachment, and family cultures while working to provide the children in her care with an environment supporting developmentally appropriate experiences. In 2010, her center was awarded accreditation through the National Association of Family Child Care. Following this attainment, she attended training through West-Ed and the CA Department of Education. This motivated to make a new, significant commitment to her own education.

In 2015, Christiana enrolled in the Kremen School’s Master of Arts in Education, Early Childhood Education program. What began learning motivated her to a career in education and advocacy. To her, every assignment and discussion was an experience that became an act of advocacy for children and their learning communities. One assignment, a review of the book Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, resulted in a publication in the Journal of Character Education in 2017.

Due to her background and interest in science and with the support of her advisor, Dr. Cathy Yun, Christina proposed a demonstration garden that would be used as a resources for P-12 students and the teacher candidates we prepare. This project, planned for construction on our campus will serve as an interdisciplinary research model aimed at addressing science experiences, educator preparation, and food insecurities on campus and in our community. The project has been met with great enthusiasm by the community, potential donors, educators, Kremen faculty, and other campus leaders. It obtained an award from the Graduate Net Initiative to help support the project.

While at Fresno State, Christina has participated in two major research studies. One is with a Math Coherence project by Northwestern and Vanderbilt Universities. Her role has been data collection and interviews. The second is working for the Next Generation Educators Initiative, working for this project as a candidate coach, reviewing literature, and helping design the CREATe Rubric and training candidates on its use.

For the next year following graduation, Christina will continue to work with Early Childhood teacher candidates. Her education plans include applying for a Ph.D. program.

Speaking of her, Dr. Cathy Yun said, “Christina is driven by her equity-based perspective and her conviction that ALL children deserve engaging science education beginning in early childhood. Her dedication to promoting quality early childhood education in the Fresno community compels her to engage in work that promotes transformative change.”

Outstanding Graduate Students

Each year the Division of Research and Graduate Studies and the Graduate Net Initiative host a Graduate Student and Faculty Mixer. This is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our graduate students and the faculty who helped them succeed.

This year the Kremen School of Education and Human Development nominated seven graduate students for their ability to excel in their studies and to show promise in their future profession.

Stephanie-Thiele-MAEd-C&IStephanie Thiele

Master of Arts in Education, Curriculum and Instruction student

“Stephanie is a leader, a scholar, and a highly involved 6th grade teacher in Selma Unified, where she coaches three sports and coordinates Leadership and History Day, the Yearbook Club, and the district Technology and Math Teams. Stephanie is completing her M.A. and Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Technology.” – Dr. Carol Fry Bohlin

Brooke-Berrios_MAECEBrooke Berrios

Master of Arts in Education, Early Childhood Education student

“Brooke Berrios is not only genuinely passionate about her own learning but also the learning of others. Most recently, she significantly contributed to our program by helping us develop an innovative recruitment plan. I see an authentic leader in Brooke who will continue to make a deep impact in higher education as well as in her community.” – Dr. Heather Horsley

David-Garza-MAHEALDavid Garza

Master of Arts in Education, Educational Leadership and Administration student

“This is a student who stood out as a leader in his cohort and the program. Any person who has been in contact with him comments on his work ethic, character, integrity, and ability to inspire others. For example, he is a great spokesperson and advocate for his cohort members, colleagues, and most of all the students he and families he serves on a daily basis. He has a passion for helping others that is contagious. He is a life long learner and continues to push himself beyond the coursework.” – Dr. Mabel Franks

Camerina Morales - Dr. Susana HernandezCamerina Morales

Master of Arts in Education, Higher Education, Administration and Leadership student

“Camerina Morales is a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Leadership in the office the Student Involvement and serves as the HEAL Graduate Student Association Chair. Camerina is eager to serve and looks for opportunities to be of service. Her commitment to social justice is evidenced in and outside of the classroom.” – Dr. Susana Hernandez

Patricia-Bloodgood-MMEPatricia Bloodgood

Master of Arts in Education, Multilingual Multicultural Education student

“Patricia exemplifies the MME Program by her advance level of research and leadership. She is respected by her peers due to her wiliness to support others and volunteer in extra-curriculum activities. She works towards crossing cultural and class borders for a justice understanding of linguistically and culturally diverse students.” – Dr. Teresa Huerta

KathleenGiannandreaKathleen Giannandrea

Master of Arts in Education, Reading/Language Arts student

“Kathleen Giannandrea embodies the qualities of an amazing teacher-researcher. She generously serves her community as an Instructional Coach/ELA Teacher at Orosi High School, and as District Director of AVID. Her research engages youth in service-learning and critical literacy. Kathleen’s service transcends academics, preparing and supporting college-bound community advocates and activists.” – Dr. Imelda Basurto

Rebecca-Pings-SPEDRebecca Pings

Master of Arts in Special Education student

“The Special Education program is proud to nominate Rebecca Pings to represent as Program Ambassador. Rebecca represents our program well in a number of ways. Her plan is to work with teens and adults with intellectual disabilities. Rebecca’s years of experience both professionally and personally impact her dedication and scholarship.” – Dr. Kimberly Coy

Julayne-Jorge-CRMHCJulayne Jorge

Master of Science in Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling student

“Julayne is the true epitome of a professional student and a counselor trainee. Julayne values education and service within our community. She actively engages in class discussions, participates in program related events and initiatives, and works closely with faculty. She is a constant support of others, specifically persons with disabilities and her peers.” – Dr. Alicia Becton

Robert-Pimentel - DPELFSRobert Pimentel

Doctorate in Educational Leadership student

“Robert currently works in a leadership setting at the community college and is in his third year of the doctoral program in educational leadership on track to graduate in May. He was the first in his cohort to successfully complete the preliminary defense of his dissertation and has excelled in all his coursework.” – Dr. Laura Gonzalez



Anita’s Heart Beats in Two Languages

Story courtesy of Anita Gonzalez, MS in Counseling – School Counseling Student

I was raised by two amazing immigrants from Zacatecas, Mexico! My parents came to the United States with hopes to offer my brother and I a better future from what they had. My parents risked their lives crossing the border and living horrible experiences to give us the AMERICAN DREAM. Many people unfortunately, can’t make it but my parents were lucky enough to make it and offer us a better life.

I am the youngest in my family out of two. My first language is Spanish and I did not learn English until the end of elementary school.

I struggled to learn English because I only spoke it very little in school. All my school work and homework were in Spanish and I felt like an outcast during school. I was bullied in high school because I was not able to pronounce certain words. This affected me emotionally and also personally. I should have been considered an at-risk student because I was struggling not only emotionally but also academically. This was overlooked though. Adjusting to school was very difficult and sometimes I remember feeling intimidated by certain teachers, mostly the ones who were white.

I wasn’t recognized or acknowledged in school and was overlooked by many. This is one of the reasons why I want to become a school counselor, to recognize and acknowledge the ones who are being overseen.

I want to make an impact on the students who need it the most. This may be a common reason for many helping professionals. However, seeing how much it affected me and the fact that I lived it, makes a huge difference. I would not like to see people struggling over things that I am able to help. I want to help people in general but I would like to focus on students who’s English is their 2nd language.

I am a first generation college student, the first one ever to come to graduate school in my family. I did not have any resources to help me, I got lost and I even remember a week before college started, August 2011, I was crying because of how scared I felt to come to Fresno State. My parents didn’t really understand what was going on in the course of my career but they support me and trust me that I will be someone big and will make them and family proud. I am proud to be first-generation though, I am proud to be the first in my family to come to graduate school. It is an honor to learn outside my family’s beliefs and still have their support.

Even though I have had many challenges in my earlier life, this has made me stronger and has opened my mind to different perspectives! Not only that but FAMILY and friends have been a great support. From Mom, Dad, cousins, my best friends, and now my biggest motivation: MY SON, Emanuel! My son came into my life unexpectedly but little did I know, that is when I needed him the most. I needed my son without knowing I needed him.

Being a first time mother, full-time graduate student, working and trying to complete an internship, can really be exhausting! I had my son when I first started the Master’s program. My son was born October 16, 2016 and this is the time of the year when all midterms and papers are due. I was in the hospital a week after I gave birth and I remember trying to complete an assignment in the hospital bed but I could not do it because I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I had to miss class for about a month (or so) because I had a few complications but all my professors at that time understood and gave me extra time to complete it. I still had to complete it though! I finished my first semester of graduate school with a 4.00 and a newborn in my arms. I was completely lost and confused, not to say exhausted!

In addition, having the support of some staff members, such as, Dr. Lopez, Dr. Sharma, my academic advisor, my professors, Dr. Lomack, Jessica Bloom and among other meaningful professors. They have been there for me and showed me what I am capable of and what I, as a LATINA, am able to do all at once.

Personally, I am those types of people who does not ask for help. I do not like to be handed stuff. However, I think with everything that was going on in my life at once, I just had to reach out for help. I started to meet with my professors and started to speak up and be an advocator for myself. I now meet with my mentor, Dr. Lopez, every now and again. We talk about school, grades, internships and even personal events happening in my life. I see her sometimes as my personal therapist. Sometimes we need to vent and rant about certain things. Regardless, she has supported me and motivated me to keep on going. Dr. Lopez, is an awesome person and I am proud to call her my mentor.

Additionally, my academic advisor, Dr. Sharma has also been there for me when I needed guidance. She has supported me as well and has guided me on the right pathway and has helped me get to where I am now.

I also decided to reach out for another type of help because I was struggling financially. Everyone at some point (graduate college students) struggles financially, I think. So I reached out for help, I applied to some scholarships and grants. I was hesitant but my mentor, Dr. Lopez helped me through the process of applying. I was thankful for her and to be receiving her help. I then was selected to receive the Graduate Net Initiative’s Internship Grant and was also selected to receive the Dr. Marion and Kremen Scholarship this semester. I was blessed and of course, super excited to have been selected. I was honored to be receiving help at this point.

It is okay to ask for help at times, it is okay to be vulnerable and recognize that you are tired. Being a Latina can be exhausting but it is a privilege to be one and I am embracing my culture, beliefs, background and myself.

I had to learn the hard way through this maze road to education but it is okay now because there is nothing more powerful than an educated woman. All the opportunities are out there, you just have to learn or have a mentor to help guide you, like I have Dr. Lopez and Dr. Sharma.

You may feel lost but that’s the beauty of feeling proud and successful at the end. Education is our most powerful weapon.

I love being a Latina, a graduate student, and a mother. I am thankful to have taken this path and because of this I can say I am wise but I am looking forward what this world has for me and I will be ready for it. Mi Corazon late en dos idiomas (My heart Beats in two languages) because being bilingual is a privilege and I am part of two worlds whom I am honored to be.


If you would like your story highlighted on Kremen School News, contact


Four Job Offers in One Day

There are many reasons a person decides to go to college; increase their knowledge, become more financially stable, and to have more opportunity. But one of the main reasons people decide to continue their education is to further their career. People want to earn a degree that will get them a job and more importantly a career. Our goal, as the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, is to not only have our students graduate from college but to prepare them for their career.

Preparing for the Future

Every semester, the Kremen School hosts an Interview Panel Seminar for our last semester teaching credential students. The seminar was held on March 2nd, just one week before the Teacher Recruitment Fair on March 8th. This seminar helps prepare our teaching credential students for their future with career tips and a Q&A with school district personnel.

The Fresno State Career Development Center started off the seminar with a workshop on interview techniques, appropriate attire and resume tips. The workshop, hosted by Jody Burum, Career Counselor, provided our students with the tools they need to be successful in their future interviews. We want to make sure that our students are confident when they go into an interview. That our students have a positive attitude, portray a professional image and are prepared with the appropriate closing questions and comments for the interview.

Students can use the Career Development Center for the following resources:

The seminar concluded with a panel of District Superintendents and other executive personnel from the major Central Valley school districts. The district representatives provided our students with information about teaching in the districts. This is a unique opportunity for our students to get face-to-face time with potentially their future employers. The students asked the district representatives questions that are appropriate with current job trends and the world we live in today. The students asked questions such as: “Is it inappropriate to ask about the school’s safety procedures during the interview process?”, “What do you like to see in an interviewee’s ‘Teacher Portfolio’?” and “When interviewing with school districts as opposed to schools, how do you help applicants navigate which school would be the best fit?”.

The Interview Panel Seminar is a major tool in preparing our teacher credential students to be successful at the Teacher Recruitment Fair.

Landing the Job

On March 8th, the Kremen School of Education and Human Development hosted the 2018 Teacher Recruitment Fair. The fair is an opportunity for our teaching credential students and alumni to interview on the spot for current job openings. The fair was extremely successful, housing over 80 California school districts in attendance. The students and alumni in attendance needed to come prepared to the fair, ready for interviews and ready to sign job contracts. Brenda Alarcon, a Multiple Subject Credential student, made sure she came prepared. “The philosophy statement is what I prepared the most and fixing my resume. I already had letters of recommendation so that was the easy part.” Alarcon, receiving a job offer with Kings County School District, stating she “really appreciated that everyone was there and it makes you think for the future.”

Monica Sepulveda, also a Multiple Subject Credential student, was very successful at the Teacher Recruitment Fair and received four job offers and decided that she is going to start her career at West Fresno Elementary School. Sepulveda dedicates some of her success to being prepared but also knowing her audience. “They want to see what expertise or experience you have in education and that’s the first thing they look for.”

For any teachers or credential students who were not able to attend the fair, visit EDJOIN, the number one educational job site.



Angelina Garcia Continues to Inspire Others

Angelina Garcia has been inspiring and motivating people for years.

Angleina Garcia at Valley Children’s Hospital

Her story starts at Reedley College where she was studying to complete her Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Studies. Angelina Garcia, 22 years of age, unfortunately discovered she had a brain tumor during her freshman year at Reedley College. Thankfully the tumor was not cancerous, however it grew rapidly forcing emergency surgery. The tumor paralyzed the right side of her body so she could not eat or speak.  She had to re-learn many things and drop out of college for two years.

Throughout this hurdle in her life she was able to return to Reedley College. Still recovering from her brain tumor, Angelina was walking  to and from classes with a cane. During this time back at Reedley College, she met a motivating teacher, her Child Development instructor, Amy Micu. At the end of the semester, Micu motivated Angelina to walk without her cane. Angelina showed hesitation and Micu said “Maybe not today but just try it over the summer, I think you’re ready.” The following semester, Angelina returned to Reedley College and saw Micu, excited to show her that she was walking to and from classes without her cane.

“I did it and then that following semester she saw me walking without my cane. I was like look, I did what you told me!” – Angelina Garcia

Angelina’s ability to return to school and graduate from Reedley College inspired many people. Her counselor and several other instructors nominated her for the State Center Community College District (SCCCD) Student of Note Award. ‘The Student of Note award is given to one graduating student from each Center who has overcome a significant obstacle in his/her pursuit of an education.” – SCCCD. Angelina was interviewed by Reedley College’s Vice President and was presented with the Student of Note Award award during the commencement ceremony, where she received the diploma for her Associate of Arts in Liberal Studies degree.

While Angelina has inspired and motivated many people over the past few years, she was motivated by another teacher, her 4th grade teacher at Indianola Elementary School in Selma. Her 4th grade teacher was able to make an impact that helped Angelina realize that she wants to become a teacher one day.

“My 4th grade teacher was really motivating and I thought, another way I can motivate people is by being a teacher.” – Angelina Garcia

When Angelina transferred to Fresno State, she came in full force taking 18 units. She entered the Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies program’s STEP cohort with a concentration in history and she is minoring in Urban Civic Education. Angelina is very involved in school activities and is currently searching to join a student association or club.

During Angelina’s school experience, she has met many motivating people. Further driving her path to become a teacher. Her plan is to enter a credential program in Fall 2019, still deciding between becoming an elementary teacher or a history teacher. Angelina wants to teach in Reedley or Selma and continue motivating and inspiring others just as she was motivated by her 4th grade teacher.