For 10-year-old Tony Salazar, some of his happiest days were when he visited his Uncle Robert. Salazar cared for his uncle’s goat, chickens and birds which allowed him to keep his mind off the turmoil of his life. After his parent’s recent divorce, he went to live with his father — but the dissolution had left his father’s life in shambles.
“I went from seeing both of my parents who were happily married and being a loving family, to me living with my dad in a trailer in Visalia,” Salazar said.
During those visits to his uncle’s home, Salazar found comfort, encouragement and a sense of belonging. While not a wealthy man, Uncle Robert generously helped Salazar with school supplies and other necessities of life. As he got older, his uncle also bought him his first phone and his first car.
“He did it from the kindness of his heart. No one told him to do it. Rather, he did it because he felt it was the right thing to do,” Salazar said.
Eventually, the visits became a permanent arrangement as Salazar was permitted to live full-time with his uncle. With his life stabilized and his uncle’s support, Salazar thrust himself into his education. In high school, he volunteered at sporting events, filmed and edited staff videos and was Vice President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club. He was also Editor-In-Chief for the Exeter Student News for two years and worked a part-time job.
“One of the many things that I love about journalism is the ability to better inform the public. Nonetheless, give a voice to the voiceless. That’s where I hope to one day make a difference in my community,” Salazar said.
That passion for journalism led him to the Fresno State Department of Media, Communications and Journalism (MCJ). At his Dog Days orientation, one of the first people he met was Faith Sidlow, an award-winning journalist and associate professor of broadcast journalism who welcomed him with open arms. Since then, Sidlow has served as both a teacher and mentor to Salazar and even helped him land a part-time job at the local NBC/CBS affiliate.
“Tony Salazar is a delight to have as a student and advisee. He is one of the most energetic, enthusiastic, hard-working, students I have ever met. And, he’s just an all-around nice guy,” said Sidlow.
He continues to volunteer and be involved in extracurricular activities such as serving as president of the campus chapter of the RTDNA (Radio Television Digital News Association) and as an orientation leader for Dog Days.
“I was grateful to welcome new students to Fresno State and guide them as most of them make the transition to Fresno State while also showing them how awesome Fresno State is.”
In reflecting on his life experience, Salazar recalls the series of obstacles and choices that brought him to where he is today.
“Although I didn’t have a choice of my parents getting a divorce, I did, however, have a choice to be a 3.9-grade point average college student; I did have a choice to be involved in extracurricular activities,” said Salazar. “Choices like these are what I did to better myself and to be productive.”
For those who have chosen to support the Dean’s Council Annual Fund, that choice is now supporting Salazar in his education through the scholarship fund, and his dream to become a news reporter.
“As a proud recipient of the Dean’s Council Funds, it has allowed me to focus on the most important aspect of education, learning. Thank you to the Dean’s Council for their support in my academic journey,” Salazar said.
In addition to the Dean’s Council scholarship, Salazar’s educational journey has also been supported by the Exeter Community Service Guild Scholarship, Taco Bell Live Mas scholarship (two-time recipient), Benck Family Scholarship, College of Arts and Humanities-Dean’s Council Scholarship, Roger Tatarian Scholarship, among others.
“I am just so blessed and thankful for all of the numerous scholarship funds. If it weren’t for my family, friends, and the scholarship funds provided by generous donors, I would not be here at Fresno State.”
Salazar said he is also grateful for his friends, family, and educators who have pushed him to live his dream of becoming a news reporter. But mostly, he is thankful for the man who selflessly took him in, made sure his needs were met and provided emotional support through his formative years.
“My Uncle Robert has always pushed me to be the best version of myself and to make the most out of everything,” said Salazar. “If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”