For The Madera Tribune
Recent Fresno State graduate Tania Gonzalez is a media, communications and journalism major.
Although the road hasn’t always been easy for these Fresno State graduates and Madera natives, they embrace their hardships, appreciate their accomplishments and are ready to chase their goals for the future.
Fresno State held its 106th university commencement ceremony in late May. Madera residents Tania Gonzalez, Rafael Nunez and Selena Gonzalez-Sierra were in attendance.
“I’m going to be the first in my family to graduate from college,” Gonzalez said.
Although Gonzalez, 21, was not born in Madera, she and her family moved to the city from Mexico when she was 2.
Gonzalez said before starting school she only spoke Spanish. It wasn’t until kindergarten that she began to learn English. She graduated from Madera High School.
“Obviously my parents sacrificed a lot coming here,” Gonzalez said. “I just want to take advantage of the opportunity that gave me and not let their sacrifices go to waste.”
Gonzalez originally started as a nursing major, but soon knew that wasn’t the major she wanted. Gonzalez switched her major to media, communication and journalism with an emphasis in public relations.
“I love it. I love our department,” Gonzalez said. “I want to say MCJ is like a family. There has never been a class I disliked, I’ve never had a professor I disliked.”
Gonzalez said she feels like the major is one where peers encourage each other and everybody is in it together.
“We definitely grow together,” Gonzalez said. “I love how encouraging all the professors are, the instructors are, and how invested into your career they are.”
Gonzalez is applying for internships, but said her dream ideal job has to do with Spanish communications.
“I would like to work for a company that has a Hispanic audience,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez has been able to complete her degree within four years, even though some semesters she took as many as 21 units while commuting back and forth between Madera and Fresno.
“I feel like through the years, and with my part-time job, I realized the importance of having a career that you love,” Gonzalez said. “When it comes to school you literally choose your destiny.
“You get to choose what you want to do for the rest of your life, so why not choose something you’re passionate about, something you love.”
Nunez was offered similar advice himself.
“Best advice I’ve ever got was ‘roll with the punches,’” Nunez said “Things don’t always turn out to be as you thought they would be, so you’ve got to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C.”
Nunez, 26, went to Fresno State in 2008 as an incoming freshman from Madera High.
“Once I got here I did great my first year,” Nunez said. “But then I came across some hard times, so then I had to drop out.”
Nunez continued to go to community college to work his way back up to transferring to Fresno State.
Nunez commuted to Fresno State from Madera four times a week to complete his degree in kinesiology. He said his ideal job would be working with exercise and youth and not sitting behind a desk.
“I think that’s been the worst thing for me in my current job is that I’m sitting behind a desk instead of being physically active,” Nunez said.
After obtaining his degree in kinesiology, Nunez said, he will complete the teaching credential program at Fresno State and continue to live in Madera.
Gonzalez-Sierra, 22, is a Madera native but has lived in Fresno while going to school.
“I am the oldest of three siblings, coming from immigrant parents,” Gonzalez-Sierra said. “I got to Fresno State because of my parents. They have always taught me the value of education, since they didn’t have the opportunity to further theirs.”
Gonzalez-Sierra is a criminology major, and said she has always been interested in this field since she was at Madera High School.
“I’ve always been interested in why people commit crimes, so I decided I want to be involved,” Gonzalez-Sierra said. “I am definitely planning on going into law enforcement. Hopefully, I can start working right away so I can save up for my master’s degree. I will for sure be pursuing a higher education.”
Gonalez-Sierra said her father’s simple words “echale ganas,” meaning “give it your all,” is the best advice she’ll ever receive.
Gonzalez-Sierra encourages other students not to give up.
“Those long nights and tough assignments will be well worth it at the end,” Gonzalez-Sierra said. “Not only at graduation but receiving a good grade on something you worked so hard on is a very satisfying feeling.”
Gonzalez-Sierra is very grateful for the role her parents played in her education.
“My parents have been the absolute best support system throughout my college career,” Gonzalez-Sierra said. “They have never denied me of any help I have needed and they have never failed to tell me how proud they are of me, which believe it or not, is all the pushing I needed to continue.”