On November 15, the College of Health and Human Services will host the 2019 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. We will highlight the ten honorees in our Heroes Blog Series.

Heroes19_Felipe Mercado_smName: Felipe Mercado

Occupation: Principal, West Fresno Elementary School

Nominated by: Department of Social Work Education

From an early age, Dr. Felipe Mercado has thrived in the face of adversity. His personal connection to social injustices has inspired a dedicated career that reimagines the educational systems within the Central Valley.

He cites the heartwrenching murder of his brother, Sammy, in 2012, as the influential factor in his decision to effect systemic change in the public school system. At the time of Sammy’s death, Mercado was in the midst of pursuing his Master of Social Work degree, with a focus on public child welfare and school social work. However, as tragedy struck, Mercado transitioned his energy to eliminating injustices within social and economic systems locally. 

As one of the first restorative counselors in the Fresno Unified School District, Mercado revolutionized the counseling field. His goal to end the school-to-prison pipeline drives his need to make a difference in the lives of our youth. 

Mercado is now the principal of West Fresno Elementary School. He believes his personal experiences of growing up into a life of poverty and parental substance abuse has ultimately shaped his moral compass and leadership qualities to this day. He hopes to inspire compassion in the generations to come, and continuously seeks to provide access and opportunities to his students and their families, as he believes no one should be left behind.

Although he is now in education, Mercado’s career is multifaceted. He is skilled in a number of roles – social worker, administrator, researcher, lobbyist, advocate and consultant, among others. He says each of these unique roles intertwine with his belief that humanity, above all else, is the key to a better quality of life for all.

“What makes Dr. Mercado exceptional is his unwavering commitment to transforming justifiable anger and bitterness into a deep commitment of advocacy for those who have been forgotten.” – Dr. Nancy Delich, Department of Social Work Education

The 2019 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 15, 2019 at Fresno State. For more information on the event, contact Beth Wilkinson at 559.278.3603 or bwilkinson@csufresno.edu.