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"Being a student in the Benerd School of Education has been a transformative experience and has provided me the opportunity to truly actualize my potential."

Program: Student Affairs                                       Hometown: Fresno, CA

What lead you to the field of education?
My family embedded in me the importance of public service and giving back to those in need. This idea led me to pursue a career in firefighting where I learned the importance of selfless service and how much of an impact you can have in the lives of others. I trained every weekend at Station 3 in Downtown Fresno as part of the Fresno Fire Explorers program and enrolled at Fresno City College to earn an associates degree in Fire Science and Technology. I ended up earning my associates, but I was diagnosed with a health condition in my last semester at FCC. I was 22 years old and disheartened to know the career that I was working towards would no longer be an option. I never planned to get a Bachelors Degree let alone a Masters Degree, but I knew I wanted to work in a career field that allowed me to serve others in need. I worked in the private sector and in different capacities in government testing the waters and seeing if either industry was a good fit. Neither was, but my time in Student Government gave me the chance to work with students from across the state and I soon learned that I enjoyed helping students actualize their potential. Combine that with my experience in Fraternity and Sorority Life as a member of Pi Kappa Alpha and Student Affairs became home. 

Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to follow a similar path as yours?
When I got to Campus two things became very apparent to me. 1. In my entire 24 years of life, I have never seen grass so green  2. I did not believe I was worthy of being a student here. I came to learn that the grass is so green because Pacific paints it and I felt unworthy because I was painting a bad picture of myself. I was going through the motions all the while thinking "Any day now. People are going to figure out I have no idea what I am doing." 
It took my boss sitting me down and helping me understand that I am not alone in these feelings of inadequacy. This feeling of self-doubt is known as Imposter Syndrome and it is common amongst high achieving people who are unable to internalize success. Any achievement I did have I convinced myself that it was based on great timing and luck. I refused to accept the fact that I was capable of triumph. I was comparing my behind the scenes work with everyone else's highlight reel. 
Imposter Syndrome and doubt are all symptoms of success. Many of you will be entering institutions and organizations that quite frankly, are not built with your needs in mind. Feelings of inadequacy and doubt are not only common, but normal. I encourage you not to run from Imposter Syndrome, but to acknowledge it exists and to know that you can overcome it. Don't attribute success to luck, OWN your accomplishments. Most importantly don't compare yourself to others, for that act alone is a form of self-sabotage. My advice is don't follow my path and blaze your own trail. In the process of doing so, you may have points of doubt and thinking you are failure. That's normal and part of the human condition. You are not an imposter and you are worthy of the greatness that will come your way.    

After graduation what are your career plans?
My short-term career plans are to give back to my community and help other Latino students navigate the complex college world. Latinos have enrolled in college at higher rates than in the past, but are failing to complete their degree. As someone with the navigational and linguistic capital to work with this particular population, I want to help these students reach their goals as my mentors have helped me reach mine. Long-term I will be working to make education accessible, affordable, and equitable for all. The capacity to do that is uncertain at the moment, but therein lies the adventure. 

Describe your most rewarding experience so far here at Benerd.
Being a student in the Benerd School of Education has been a transformative experience and has provided me the opportunity to truly actualize my potential. Before coming into my program I had passion, now after two years of being a student here I have purpose. The school took a wide-eyed young man who had a dream of making a difference and provided him the knowledge and skill set to see that dream come to fruition. Benerd has provided a solid foundation that I will continue to build on as I move forward in my career. I used to think about the future and fear the unknown, but with what I have learned here at the University I am embracing uncertainty knowing that I am capable of moving mountains. 

How has your graduate assistantship benefitted your experience at Benerd?
My mentor once told me, " You earn your degree inside the classroom, but you earn your education with what you do outside of it".  My time at Pacific has afforded me the opportunity to do just that. Traveling to conferences and speaking to other graduate students they are always shocked to learn just how much responsibility Pacific gives us. The student affairs cohorts are a vital part of the Student Life Department here on campus and we get to put what we learn in the classroom into practice. I feel it has made me competitive and a top contender for employment now that I transition into the professional world.

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