A Wellness Program for Hmong Americans

(Photo courtesy of May Twenty and Five)

Since the pandemic, emotional and behavioral wellness has been in the spotlight although it has always been a concern. When Dr. Song Lee, a full professor and licensed counselor in the Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation applied for sabbatical, she didn’t know that a pandemic would occur.  Nor was she aware that the pandemic would impact people’s social connections and heighten symptoms of mental health.  

Dr. Lee was granted her sabbatical in November, 2020, but had to wait until spring 2022 to take it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She used most of her time to create a Wellness Program hosted at Freedom Community Church in Fresno, Calif, to serve Hmong Americans. The City of Fresno has one of the largest Hmong populations in the United States, second to Minneapolis – St. Paul in Minnesota. About 35,000 Hmong reside in Fresno and currently about 1,444 Hmong students attend California State University, Fresno. 

Dr. Lee hopes the Wellness Program, known to the Hmong elders as the “Noj Qab Haus Huv Program,” will be a place that the Hmong will trust and easily access information and knowledge on mental health concerns and coping strategies to strengthen families. The Open House for the Wellness Program took place on October 22, 2022 and was celebrated with Fresno State faculty and students, members of Freedom Community Church, and members of the community who serve Hmong Americans in their respective fields and agencies.  

For questions about the program or if you or your Hmong families and friends would like to seek support or services, please contact Dr. Song Lee at maLee@csufresno.edu or at 559-278-0349. The services are not considered counseling because they do not include diagnosis or treatment for specific mental health illnesses. Support services include bilingual and bicultural individual consultations and support groups on Sunday mornings at Freedom Community Church. Workshops and trainings will be posted on the Freedom Community Church website: https://www.freedomcommunity.org/wellness-program.html

(Written by Dr. Song Lee, Professor, Department of Counselor Education and Rehabilitation)

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)

Taking the lead in building the capacity of the ECE workforce in Fresno

Launching A New Early Childhood Education (ECE) 24-Unit Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Certificate Program to support district partners.

Recognizing the need of district partners to provide well-qualified TK teachers in the classroom, Kremen is launching a transitional kindergarten program through Continuing and Global Education that allows participants to obtain 24 ECE units within 9 months virtually over evenings and the weekends.  

The ECE 24-Unit Transitional Kindergarten (TK) Certificate Program is a user-friendly program that was created by Dr. Pei-Ying Wu, an assistant professor in the Early Childhood Education Program and the Fansler Chair leading the Joyce M. Huggins Early Education Center. Dr. Wu’s research interests focus on early childhood teachers’ professional development and self-efficacy, making her the perfect candidate to lead this program. 

The program came about as a result of the state of California investing $2.7 billion in the universal kindergarten program in order to include all the state’s 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year. It is open to teachers who have, or are obtaining a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and want to meet the state requirements while enhancing their ECE qualifications. It emphasizes hands-on experiences and provides opportunities for teachers to apply the knowledge learned from coursework to their classroom. 

This certificate program is a great workforce development option customized to the needs of current TK teachers who are looking for hands-on experiences and opportunities to apply the knowledge learned from the coursework to their classrooms. 

The Huggins Center serves as a regional model for some of the best practices in ECE. The Huggins Center provides services for children of university students, faculty, staff and to the community between the ages of 3 months and 12 years. The center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and is one of three centers operated by the Fresno State Programs for Children. Brittney S. Randolph is the Director of Programs for Children, a comprehensive early care and education program that holds a 5-star rating from Fresno County’s Early Stars. This center works in partnership with the larger community to provide opportunities for learning and for developing partnerships that will benefit young children and families. The center also provides training, demonstration and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in education, child development, marriage, child and family therapy, and other related areas as well as for professionals in the field.

Beyond supporting the current TK workforce, the demand projections for well-qualified ECE teachers also prompt Kremen to actively prepare for the development of a new credentialing program specific to early childhood educators. With the recent approval of the PK-3rd ECE Specialist Credential, Kremen faculty began to collaborate with other CSU campuses, ECE-related degree programs (e.g. community colleges), Fresno Superintendent of Schools and LEAs on pathways and program design, curriculum development, coursework articulation, accreditation, and recruitment. 

For those interested in the ECE 24-Unit TK Certificate Program or PK-3 ECE Specialist Instruction Credential program please contact the Program Coordinator, Dr. Pei-Ying Wu at peiwu@mail.fresnostate.edu 

(Written by Dr. Pei-Ying Wu, an assistant professor in the Early Childhood Education Program/Fansler Chair, and Audra Burwell, a Creative Writing student employed by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development.)

A Legacy of Devotion: Dr. Monke’s Contributions to the Kremen School and the Creation of the Teachers and Friends Honor Wall

In 1969, Dr. Robert Monke arrived at Fresno State as a faculty member in the School of Education, now known as, the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. Kremen had no idea at the time that he would soon become one of the most prolific and generous champions of education in the school’s history. Dr. Monke dedicated both his career and retirement to improving educational opportunities for students in the San Joaquin Valley by supporting the Kremen School and advancing teacher training opportunities. He prized equality, advocacy, justice, and community above all else and devoted his efforts to improving the lives of those who are underrepresented. Dr. Monke focused primarily on counseling, teacher preparation, gender equity, diversity, and community collaboration. In 1985, he was named associate dean of the Kremen School and served as interim dean from 1988-1989 and 1996-1997.

In 1993, after assisting with the relocation and construction of the Kremen School’s current building, he set his sights on a new mission. Dr. Monke became a driving force in the development of the Teachers and Friends of Education Honor Wall outside of the Kremen School. He also served as the chair of the Brick Campaign Committee for more than 20 years. These selfless efforts inspired his colleagues to establish a scholarship in his name to help support future counselors and teachers, a fund which has currently raised over $108,000.

Dr. Monke retired in 2002, however, he has not ceased giving back to the community and supporting Fresno State in every way he can. He currently serves on the Kremen Alumni Chapter Board, leading one of the most engaged alumni chapters at Fresno State. His legacy lives on most prominently through the continued expansion of the Teachers and Friends Honor Wall. The first completed wall has a total of 3,732 bricks, with wall #5 recently established.

Individuals who wish to honor teachers and other special members of the community can purchase a commemorative brick intended for placement on the wall. Many individuals have been impacted by an educator who made a difference in their life, and desire to show their gratitude in a meaningful way. They can do so with the purchase of a brick for $125.00. The recipient will receive notification of the gift along with a certificate. The donor will receive a “letter of appreciation” for remembering the honoree with this special gift.

All funds received from brick donations are used to improve educational technology for teachers and education specialists. These funds have been directed toward the purchase of computer laboratories and other technological equipment used in classrooms at the Kremen School. Technology is a dominant resource, whether students are learning how to teach by showing technology accessibility or by using multimedia tools. It is essential that students learn how to become innovative and creative with their teaching methods, something that technology makes possible. If you would like to donate to the Kremen School to assist with keeping the classroom technology current, please click here.

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