It was a packed house in Fresno State’s Vintage Room as more than 100 students and faculty gathered for the first-ever CHHS Heroes Panel on March 22nd.

The event featured leaders, innovators and game changers in the field of health and human services, including moderator Stephen Spach, a 2005 Recreation Administration alumnus – and our panel of 2017-18 heroes:  Michelle Bronson, director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Service Center; Nancy Hoff, Nursing Education Program Consultant at Health Education Alliance; Freda Kaprielian, Early Childhood Education Specialist at KC-KIDS Early Childhood Center; Laurie Misaki, Breastfeeding Promotion Coordinator for the County of Fresno; Andrew Quesada, Alternative Education Teacher at Visalia Unified School District; and Dawan Utecht, Director of Behavioral Health for the County of Fresno.

The panel focused on each heroes’ journey from student to leader with each panelist providing valuable insight to students on how to succeed in both their classes and future careers.

Nancy Hoff, hero for the School of Nursing, was originally recruited to Fresno because of a nursing shortage and since then, has served in leadership roles that have increased the number of registered nurses in the Central Valley. She joined the panel to talk to students about her experience and emphasized how community service, particularly in their chosen field, is the path to success.


“If in their course or in their program they have time to go and do community service, they should consider that as a first line interview,” said Hoff. “The first thing they can do is to show initiative, to show that they’re really interested in what they’re doing and learn from the process. It’s very competitive, but it’s important to network and join organizations.”

One of the focuses of the panel was to teach students how to combine what they learn in the classroom to the career they want to pursue with education and experiences being key factors for achieving professional growth within their individual fields.

Sitting alongside Hoff and leading the panel discussion was Stephen Spach, a financial analyst with Thiesen Dueker Group, who served as the moderator. As a candidate for a Master’s in Business Administration at the Craig School of Business, Spach provided a student perspective that really helped shape the event. He focused the discussion on conveying valuable lessons to students and ways of applying their education to whatever field they pursue.


“When I was a student here, in my earlier years, I was very uncertain about a lot of things,” said Spach. “It helps seeing people who are successful in the community, who are passionate about what they do. I think hearing their stories, their struggles, and their experiences rub off on students.”

This is the second CHHS student panel that Spach has hosted. The previous panel, held last semester, also focused on the student to leader journey.

Nancy Rodriguez, a double major in Kinesiology and Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies, said the panel emphasized the value of community service. For her future, working in physical therapy means more than getting a doctorate. It’s a chance to serve others.

“The panel showed us that you can accomplish a lot of different things,” said Rodriguez. “One important thing from the panel that I wrote down is ‘look for where the need is and remember who you are serving’.”


Clarissa Sparks, a Recreation Administration senior, is getting ready to graduate and pursue her long-term career goal of helping children in sports and after-school activities. The wide range of panelists were able to answer Sparks’ questions about how to initiate collaboration between different organizations

“The event was inspiring, just seeing the different achievements the heroes have accomplished,” said Sparks. “This could be me in 20 years. Seeing the steps that they took when they felt they weren’t ready for a position was good. I have definitely been in that position even as a student.”

The panel concluded by giving students words of wisdom on developing empathy and how to learn from empathy to solve problems and fill the needs of others.

To learn more about our 2017-18 Health and Human Services Heroes, please visit our blog.



L to R: Stephen Spach, Andrew Quesada, Nancy Hoff, Laurie Misaki, Michelle Bronson, and Freda Kaprielian. Missing is Dawan Utecht. March 22, 2018 CHHS Heroes Panel. 

Written by communications student assistant, Rebeca Flores.