Florina Fernandez remembers playing school as a child with her older brother and younger sister — she always chose to be the teacher. In some ways, not much has changed.
The first person in her family to graduate from a university, Fernandez, 24, will celebrate earning her bachelor’s degree in English education at Fresno State on May 18. She plans to teach high school English and coach cheer or softball after finishing her credential program next year.
“The Central Valley has a shortage of English teachers and it is a critical area to contribute to,” said Alison Mandaville, associate professor of English and coordinator of English education and teacher credentialing programs at Fresno State. “We especially need language arts instructors. Students cannot be successful in school if they don’t have strong literary skills.”
As a youngster, Fernandez loved reading and writing. Her mother always encouraged her to write down her feelings and eventually Fernandez used this as an outlet. She wrote poems and developed an interest in creative writing. She was also athletic, competing in cheer for nine years and playing softball all four years she attended Clovis East High School.
Meanwhile, Fernandez’s home life changed swiftly and dramatically during her adolescent years. She said her parents struggled with addiction, and during the summer after she finished eighth grade she and her siblings went into foster care. They lived with her aunt, before being reunited with their father her sophomore year in high school.