Mario Arias, Student of Distinction

Mario Alberto Arias Esquivel

Teaching Spanish to others is more than just a job for Mario Alberto Arias Esquivel. He described the process as sharing a piece of himself, his culture, and giving his students a second soul.

Born in Mexico, Arias moved to the United States with his parents when he was 12-year-old. Since that time, he has not only learned a new language and assimilated into a new culture — he has also worked his way to the top of the Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures department to earn his MA in Spanish. Arias was the first person in his family to attend college.

Arias has worked for six semesters as a Teaching Associate, earning the Teaching Associate of the Year Award in 2017.  

“His class was so remarkable that the committee unanimously chose him to be the recipient of the award,” said Professor Rafael Lemus. “Mario was well-prepared and used a variety of teaching strategies to engage students and to make content accessible to them. It was evident that he enjoys teaching and that he has an excellent rapport with the students.

In his MA thesis, “Entre la violencia y la esperanza:  testimonios de la guerra civil en El Salvador y Guatemala,” Arias offers a close reading of three fundamental works of testimonial literature, as well as concentrating on the voices and experiences of the subaltern and the victims.  

“It has been very rewarding for me as his Spanish instructor and M.A. thesis director to see how Mario has intellectually grown and matured over all of these years at Fresno State,” said Gloria Medina-Sancho, Ph.D., Professor of Spanish. “Besides achieving a teaching position as an adjunct at West Hills College, he recently obtained a competitive teaching position at Fresno City College. Since one of the most popular goals among our M.A. graduate students is to become a community college professor, Mario’s recent achievements make him a role model for our new graduate students.”

Arias plans to continue teaching so that he can inspire and encourage students to continue their education and learn Spanish.

Personal Narrative

My name is Mario Alberto Arias Esquivel, I was born in Atlacomulco de Fabela, Estado de México on December 21st, 1992. I am the oldest of Mario Arias Sánchez and Ofelia Esquivel Aguilar three children. I lived in México up to the age of twelve years old. On February 1st, 2005 my family and I moved to San Joaquin CA. It became my second home for the past fourteen years. Moving from México to California was not easy for my mother, siblings, and me. It is difficult living thousands of miles away from your family. Not only was it challenging to adjust living far away from our family but also to learn English and assimilate to a new culture.

Learning a second language was not easy for me, but I was really fortunate to have the help of my teacher Luis Arredondo and teacher aides; Mrs. López, Mrs. Reynaga, and Mrs. Moreno. I appreciate them because thanks to their support, I was able to learn English faster. Without their support, High School would have been difficult for me. I graduated in 2010 from Tranquillity High School as one of the top twenty students in my class. As a high school student, I had the opportunity to be part of the Upward Bound Math and Science Program. This program encouraged me to attended college. As a high school student, they gave me the opportunity to experience college life for six weeks during the summer.

After I graduated from High School, I decided to attend West Hills Community College Coalinga even though I had been accepted to the majority of the CSUs and UCs I had applied. As a first-generation college student, I was afraid to move away from home. West Hills Community College Coalinga gave me the opportunity to be close to home and create relationships with different people. The TRiO family encouraged me to be part of the TRiO Club where I served as the club vice president and club president.

I graduated from West Hills in 2012 and transferred to CSU Fresno as a History major and later changed to Spanish. As an undergrad at CSU Fresno, I was a full-time student and worked as a part-time tutor with the CALSOAP Program at Mendota and Tranquility High School. I enjoyed working as a tutor and helping the students in areas they struggled with the most. It became difficult working up to nineteen hours per week while taking fifteen units per semester and commuting every day from school to work. The positive experience I lived as an undergrad and the encouragement of my instructors helped me apply for the Spanish MA program. The Spanish program not only gave me the opportunity to learn more about my culture and own language, but it also helped me discover my career and love for literature. As a graduate student, I had the opportunity to work for six semesters as a Spanish Teaching Associate. I taught Spanish 1A and 1B to non-native and native speakers. From 2016 to 2017, I go awarded for being TA of the year by the Spanish TA’s Coordinator and Departmental Committee. As a Spanish TA, I offered my help and support to my colleagues, especially when it was their first time teaching a class. I did my best to explain how to navigate Blackboard and VHL Supersite. Also, I provided them with some of my lessons and tips on how to teach certain grammatical structures.

I am currently working at West Hills Community College District, where I am teaching a Spanish Class and an ESL class for non-native speakers. Besides working there, I am teaching a Spanish class at Fresno City College as well. My plan is to work at both campuses, to inspire and encourage students to continue their education and learn Spanish. Also, I want to be able to buy my parents a house and repay them for all the sacrifices they have done for my siblings and me.

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