~ Photo above: Carol and her current trainee, Debra

~ Reprinted from Campus News, Oct. 16, 2017

Carol Sera knew a lot about teeth before coming to Fresno State last year. Now, as the administrative support assistant for the College of Arts and Humanities, she feels she has a lot to smile about.

“I feel blessed to be a part of a wonderful team: Dean Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and Associate Dean Honora Chapman, Gail Freeman and Cathie Salanitro,” she said. “They welcomed me and patiently helped me adjust to the world of academia. I had a lot to learn and am still learning!”

A practicing dental hygienist for 20 years who also was a receptionist in a dental office, she oversees the dean’s busy calendar and travel commitments and handles all of the incoming mail that requires his signature. Those are her primary duties, but she handles numerous other tasks.

“I work on special projects for the associate dean and the other analysts in the office, as well as our Development Office,” she said.

Last summer she started the process of scanning documents in lieu of storing them in binders, making the information more accessible. That might be enough to make many people in her office smile!

Besides making campus a happier place, Carol is giving others a lot more to smile about by training guide dogs.

“Initially, it was my husband Dale’s project,” she said. “But soon became our project. It’s a way to give back and have an impact on another person’s life in a very positive way.”

Before becoming involved with guide dogs, she never really gave much thought to how a visually impaired person navigates through life. But now she knows how having a guide dog has given back individuals their life and independence.

“They are able to go out into the world with more confidence and helps them to engage with the seeing world,” she said.

Carol and her husband receive puppies that are 8 to 9 weeks old, and spend 12 to 15 months with them, loving them, teaching them basic obedience, socializing them, introducing them to as many experiences as they can, knowing that one day they will have to say goodbye.

Carol and her trainee Glow with the Dean's Office staff.“I chose to think of them as my children and I am sending them to college,” she said. “They will go back to Guide Dogs for the Blind at San Rafael, California for formal training. We hope we will get the call eight to 12 weeks later that they will be graduating with their new career as a guide.”

The day they went back to San Rafael to see their first pup, Junior, graduate was both emotional and gratifying. Her third puppy trainee, Glow (pictured with the Dean’s Office staff), just graduated on Sept. 30, and is now working as a guide dog in Clarement, Calif.

“This cute and cuddly pup had grown up and now is guiding and giving companionship, confidence, and freedom to his new partner,” she said. “We got to watch him guide his partner from the GDB campus to the neighborhood shopping center where we were going to have dinner. It was amazing!”

When not busy making others smile, Carol loves crafts and building rustic furniture. She and husband, Dale, have two adult children, Lauren and Jared, both in the Los Angeles area.