On November 3, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2017 Health and Human Services Hero Awards to recognize the unsung heroes in our community whose actions, thoughts and words have had a transformative impact in our region. For the rest of the month, we will be highlighting our ten honorees in our Community Heroes Series.
Name: Andrew Quesada
Occupation: Teacher, Charter Alternatives Academy (Visalia Unified School District)
Nominated by: Department of Kinesiology
Growing up, Andrew Quesada always imagined he would have a career involving numbers, but it would take many years and a stint in the Kinesiology field for him to realize that his true calling was actually teaching. After earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Fresno State in Kinesiology, he was on the path to pursue medical research at the University of Connecticut, but had a change of heart. Instead, he stayed in town pursuing a post-graduate career as a personal nutritionist, part-time lecturer in the Kinesiology department and in-home tutor to K-3 English learner students. It was then that he received an opportunity he simply couldn’t pass up – teaching in alternative education.
At first, the job was admittedly a tough one for Quesada, but his drive to succeed far outweighed the struggles. At Charter Alternatives Academy in the Visalia Unified School District, he works with kids whose home lives are consumed by drug abuse, gang activity and violence. In Quesada’s words, the kids are disenfranchised and guarded – but to him, they are simply “his kids” and everyday, he strives to bring hope and purpose into their lives. Quesada credits active listening and patience as key elements in his teaching style – and says it is the catalyst to breaking down tough barriers between him and his students.
Quesada is proud to note that nearly 80 percent of his students have graduated from high school and pursued college degrees or careers in trade. His philosophy, “others first,” is not just a motto in his classroom, but how he lives his life daily.
“All people want to succeed,” Quesada said. “They just need someone to impact their lives a way that nobody has ever before. You have to win their hearts to win their minds.”
The 2017 Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which celebrates heroes from each of the seven departments, as well as centers and institutes within our college, will be held on November 3, 2017 at Fresno State. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at 559.278.3603 or firstname.lastname@example.org.