Despite having faced hardships and obstacles, Fresno State students Mong Lor and Margarita Tinajero have persevered in the name of higher education.
Lor, a peer mentor in the College of Health and Human Services’ Advising and Career and Development Center, is in his first semester of the nursing program. A quick chat with him and it’s easy to see that his passion lies in helping others.
“Being a mentor from my perspective is very important, especially if you know you have the capabilities and knowledge to give back to students,” said Lor. “It allows me to guide other students who are taking the same footsteps that I have.”
As part of the peer mentor program, Lor and Tinajero have been meeting monthly since the fall 2016 semester and will soon have their last meeting in May.
Lor knew from the time he was a small child that he was going to attend college one day. What he didn’t anticipate was the impact he would make on nearly 75 freshman in his role as a peer mentor, including interpreting freshman, Tinajero.
“As a freshman, you come into a bigger school and you really don’t know what resources are offered,” said Tinajero. “You get told where everything is at, but you do forget a lot of things, just having a mentor there to remind you help. It is really cool and I really enjoy it.”
Similar to Lor, Tinajero has learned the value of higher education over the years. Coming from a small town in Monterey County, a college education was not certain – but it was expected. Coming to Fresno State and seeing the diverse nature of the university made Tinajero sure of her choice to advance her education.
As a DREAMer, she fully plans to embrace her college experience, and that wouldn’t be possible without Lor’s guidance. On his end, Lor strongly believes in higher education, as well.
“I do believe that higher education is something very crucial, especially for minorities,” Lor said.
Though Lor values higher education and has had a positive experience, he said that he did face some obstacle on his journey to higher education.
“I was the first son in my family to reach for higher education and there was literally no guidance,” Lor said. “The support was there, but knowing what steps to take, what to do and what resources are on campus for me were things I was not given. I felt like I was walking blindly, just doing things and fortunately the things that I was doing were benefitting me.”
That’s part of the reason why he chose to become a peer mentor, so he could provide guidance to those in similar situations. Tinajero faced her own plight of obstacles in her attempt to reach for higher education, including not passing the required exams in order to get into a UC or CSU college. She decided to apply to college anyways, and found herself at Fresno State. Despite her initial difficulties, Tinajero has found success in college.
“Last semester, I got 3.6 G.P.A. and received high honors,” Tinajero said with pride. “It took me by surprise because as a freshman in my first year of college, I was not expecting that.”
Through her major, Tinajero aspires to be trilingual, with Spanish, English and American Sign Language under her belt. Through ASL, she hopes to serve as a resource for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
“I would like to give my expertise to Latinos, especially, because most Latino culture don’t know much about deaf culture,” said Trinajero. “They see deaf as being a handicap and that does not really help their children learn language and be a part of the culture. I want to help them discover that.”
Lor said that over the past three years, he is proud that he has pushed himself to get involved. In addition to being a peer mentor, Lor is involved with the Fresno State Army ROTC and serves as a board member with the Fresno State Nursing Students’ Association.
For his future, Lor plans to specialize in the psychiatry side of nursing, specifically, in physical family counseling. His role as a peer mentor helped him come to that realization.
“Being involved like this helped me pinpoint where I belong,” Lor said. “It helped show me what population I want to work with and, especially, how I work. It shows me what I am good at and what I am willing to do for the rest of my life. You have to draw the line between what you are passionate about and what you are willing to do, because passions die out and you have to really find what you want to do. Now I am pushing my mentees to do the same thing.”
“If you start early, as a freshman, it will open so many opportunities for you. The only one that can do is yourself. You have to push yourself.”
To learn more about the Peer Mentors Program, contact the College of Health and Human Services Advising and Career Development Center at 559.278.5027 or visit their website.