Donor Gift Represents a Labor of Love for Huggins Center

It was a gift of inspiration from a Kremen alum that transformed a labor of love into a reality. 

It was a gift that turned an ordinary, empty classroom into a flourishing academic oasis for children. 

Brittney Randolph can’t help but be overwhelmed by the generosity of the gift bestowed by a Kremen alum that has now provided significant learning opportunities for the students and staff at the Joyce Huggins Early Education Center

Randolph, the Program Director for the Fresno State Programs for Children, still recollects fondly upon the impact of this gift and what it has done to provide more opportunities for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Mathematics) learning. Randolph gave Chuck Hudelson a tour of the Huggins Center and in particular, a certain classroom that was “Reggio-inspired” from an innovative, four-pronged approach to education in Italy. This tour ignited his desire to donate the gift.

“The classroom that we were talking about was basically empty. We told him our ideas and what we envisioned for the room.”

said Randolph

All it took was one look at that empty classroom, paired with the inspiration of teaching, for a dream to become reality. From that point on, Randolph could tell how passionate Hudelson had become about the type of STEAM learning that was being taught at the Huggins Center. 

Randolph explained that they were actively seeking a donor who believed in their vision even before Hudleson came along. All it took was one look at an empty classroom for that search to end. Hudelson knew what needed to be done.

They needed chairs. They needed tables. They needed other basic classroom necessities to provide their students with the best possible learning experience. Dr. Hudelson stepped up, and delivered the ultimate gift of passion and generosity. 

Hudelson’s gift has now enabled them to purchase the STEAM  materials they need: microscope pens, light tables, projectors, coding pens. Randolph’s students now have the tools they require to help them succeed. 

“He told us to do whatever we wanted to do with the amount he gave us,” said Randolph. “He was just excited that these children could potentially learn things like this at such a young age.”

For Randolph, the gift serves as a constant reminder of the labor of love she and her staff share for the teaching of their students. The gift is not just about money; it’s about their passion for teaching. 

“We don’t always have the resources to do what we envision all the time. But when you have adequate financial resources, you can execute it exactly how you pictured it.”

Randolph explains.

After the “Reggio-inspired” themed classroom was completed, Randolph took snapshots of the room to share with Hudelson. She wanted him to see, firsthand, how his gift of generosity helped their vision come to fruition. “We wanted him to finally see the vision we had explained to him during that tour,” said Randolph. 

It was the best way for Randolph and her staff to say thank you for a gift inspired by love and vision.  

“The tears of joy that come from student parents at the end of the semester remind me why it is so important that we continue offering this opportunity to students, faculty, staff, and the local community,”

Randolph concludes. 

(Written by Jason Smithberg, Kremen Communications Specialist)

 From Internship to Success

Lucero Mendoza, an intern who worked with Kremen’s Center for Advising and Student Services, is now pursuing her master’s degree in Student Affairs and College Counseling. She is projected to graduate by Spring 2023, after which, she plans to become an academic counselor in higher education. The knowledge and life skills she gained through her internship prompted her to continue reaching for her dreams, instilling her with a sense of purpose and renewed confidence.

Unfortunately, Mendoza did not have a smooth transition to college. Being a first-generation college student, she was not equipped to navigate the intimidating environment of higher education. Because of this, she decided early on that she wanted to use her future degree to help assist other first-generation college students facing the same predicament. Throughout her first year of college, Mendoza was part of a support program called “College Assistance Migrant Program” (CAMP). CAMP not only provided her with valuable resources but also introduced her to the Student Affairs College Counseling program. She began seeking assistance from peer mentors within the program. This motivated her to become a support system for other students who may also be struggling or simply need someone to talk to.

Mendoza’s internship at Kremen has helped prepare her for a future position in higher education by showing her the foundational principles of college counseling. Over the course of the last year, she has developed a new outlook regarding academic advising.

“I now understand how important it is to build a rapport with students, learning how to put oneself in their shoes. This has allowed me to take into consideration the fact that students have other responsibilities outside of their academic life, and because of this, counselors must approach each student with kindness and an open mind.”

Lucero Mendoza

Mendoza has also learned the importance of networking with other professionals. Throughout her internship, she has taken part in the Teacher Recruitment Fair and has also joined the Campus Advisors Network, where she was able to learn how other advising centers operated across campus, including any new changes that were happening. Mendoza also had the opportunity to connect with the Liberal Studies Dean, as well as other counseling members from their department. These opportunities have given her the chance to get to know other professionals in her field and learn more about their unique journeys to higher education.

Lucero Mendoza (Second from far left) with some of the other staff members at the Center for Advising and Student Services.

Working with the Center for Advising and Student Services has allowed Mendoza to gain a vast array of technical experience. Through them, she mastered how to navigate PeopleSoft, Bulldog Connect, and Zoom. Some of the other skills she has acquired include building effective communication pathways amongst students, discovering how to motivate individuals, and learning how to become an approachable person. Mendoza quickly realized the importance of having good listening skills and now strives to be as attentive to students as possible. She wants to make sure her students feel understood and validated when coming in for a session. Through Kremen, she has been taught the importance of working as a collaborative team while also building healthy relationships with both her coworkers and students. 

One of the techniques Mendoza has adopted is being flexible with her student’s availability, especially with 98% of student meetings now occurring via Zoom. At times, students may prefer having a phone call or do not feel comfortable meeting face-to-face. Other times, they are only available in the late evenings or after school hours. To Mendoza, it is extremely important to meet students halfway and remind them that she is there to support them in any way she can. Through working with the advisors at Kremen, she has learned many different techniques on how to approach students. One of her biggest takeaways is remembering to always check in with her students and conduct a follow-up after their appointment.

Organization is another crucial skill that Mendoza picked up during her internship with the counseling center. She began to utilize platforms such as Google Calendar to help itemize priorities and to keep herself from over-booking.

“Juggling school, work, and an internship can quickly become overwhelming, but having a calendar helped me to stay accountable and on track. I also used it to remind myself to take self-care days, allowing my mind to naturally reset during stressful semesters.”

Lucero Mendoza

 Mendoza loves sharing this tool with her students, knowing that it will help them exert more responsibility over their academic lives.  

For Mendoza, the Center for Advising and Student Services will always be an environment filled with positivity and encouragement. The staff members provided her with tremendous support and guidance throughout her first year as an advisor intern. One of the most poignant memories Mendoza made during her internship was when Kremen hosted a Christmas potluck. It was her first-time meeting everyone in person since joining the department. She was amazed at how well everyone got along, something that made her feel included immediately.

Lucero attending the Christmas potluck with her coworkers.

Being with Kremen has made Mendoza realize that she wants to secure a job that makes her feel welcome and understood, a place where everyone works as a team and shares the same goal of supplying the best possible service for students.

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