The College of Health and Human Services is excited to welcome three new faculty to the college, each with unique knowledge and expertise within their field of study!  Learn more about each of them below. 


fmercado-smDr. Felipe Mercado, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work Education, has dedicated the last decade of his career to supporting the public and higher education system. As a social worker, educator, and former school principal, Mercado’s passion lies in working with disenfranchised populations and communities to build civically engaged schools rooted in intersectional social justice.

Mercado is a certified Compassion Cultivation Teacher and Happiness Coach, and has received training in Dare 2 Lead and Emotional Intelligence. Utilizing his vast expertise, Mercado says his aim is to create equitable schools and mental health systems that offset the suffering and pain that exist in the world.

Mercado believes that his personal experiences of growing up in a life of poverty and being homeless at an early age have ultimately shaped his moral compass and leadership qualities. In 2019, he was awarded the College of Health and Human Service’s “Community Hero” Award for the Department of Social Work Education, in which he now teaches. A proud alumnus of Fresno State, Mercado earned a doctorate in educational leadership and administration, as well as his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work education. Learn more about him:

What is one thing you’re looking forward to about teaching at Fresno State?
The ability to connect to our students and community to offer service-learning experiences and help our social work program be one of the best in the nation.

What do you enjoy most about your field of study?
The ability to collaborate with others to bring upon change that is anchored in social justice, equity, and empowerment.

Beyond academia, what are some of your other areas of expertise?
Gardening, hiking, biking, drawing, and being a soccer dad.

What is a fun fact about you and/or what are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading about metaphysics and indigenous practices. I also participate in men’s retreats and compassion retreats. Most of all, I love to be a dad and just be with my children and wife anywhere that has good food and weather!

What areas of research are you most interested in?
First-generation students (underserved populations), compassionate leadership and organizations, K-12 discipline and educator wellness, supporting school social workers in K-12 systems, and decolonizing mental health within Indigenous practices.


pxiong-smDr. Pa Nhia Xiong, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work Education, has a passion for educating, promoting and empowering students from diverse backgrounds to obtain higher education and to give back to their communities. She is a proud social justice advocate with over 20 years of professional experience as a social worker, counselor, instructor and public servant.

Prior to Fresno State, Xiong served as an academic counselor, teacher and academic coach at Merced Community College, Clovis Community College and Fresno City College, where she helped underserved students transition from high school to college. She also worked as a social work practitioner and court officer at Madera County Child Welfare Services.

In her new role at Fresno State, Xiong is committed to providing students with the tools and access needed to help them become resilient despite adversities. She says working with diverse youth in the Central Valley has strengthened her ambition to inspire students to overcome obstacles and achieve their personal and educational endeavors.

Xiong, a first-generation Hmong college graduate, is also a proud alumna of Fresno State, where she obtained her doctorate in educational leadership, in addition to her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work education. She is excited to be back at her alma mater, this time as an educator. Read more about Xiong below:

What do you enjoy most about your field of study?
Advocating for those who are voiceless and vulnerable.

What areas of research are you most interested in?
Hmong mental health, domestic violence in the Hmong community, child welfare, teen parents, social justice, education and leadership.

What is one thing you’re looking forward to about teaching at Fresno State?
I am excited about being able to provide a new generational perspective on social work and social justice in underserved communities. I look forward to empowering social work students to give back to their communities. I hope to uplift students to be the voice and role models for others

Beyond academia, what are some of your other areas of expertise?
Drawing, home remodeling, and hand sewing/stitching paj ntaub, which are intricate flower cloths symbolic to the Hmong culture.

What is a fun fact about you and/or what are your hobbies?
I like to travel, hike, shop and spend time with my family.


qli-smDr. Qiwei Li, an assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, has a passion for health services and its delivery systems, as well as the health outcomes of people with disabilities and older adults. He recently completed his post-doctoral training at Baltimore’s John Hopkins University School of Nursing on the topic of community-based health promotion intervention for low-income community dwelling older adults with disabilities (also known as the CAPABLE program).

Li obtained his Ph.D. from the health services research program at the Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services of the University of North Texas. Since then, he has had a multitude of publications in the field, including 15 peer-reviewed articles, five book chapters and 21 conference presentations. In addition, he has taught and served over 400 students prior to Fresno State. Learn more about Li below:

What do you enjoy most about your field of study?
We all age and we all need health services when we are old. Planning everything ahead is both individually and socially beneficial.

What is one thing you’re looking forward to about teaching at Fresno State and living here in the Central Valley?
Community engagement and association between college students and local older adults. With such improved engagement, the local neighborhood would become more aging-friendly.

Beyond academia, what are some of your other areas of expertise?
Video and music editing, as well as gaming and the French language.

What is a fun fact about you and/or what are your hobbies?
I like assembling Gunpla models, which are model kits of the Gundam multiverse.