Mia De La Cerda is graduating with an M.A. in English with an option in Literature. She is the Dean’s Medal nominee with an honorable mention for the Department of English.
“Over the years, I’ve come to recognize Mia as deeply engaged in her learning – both in literary study, but also as a gorgeous poet who uses her voice as a form of advocacy,” said Dr. Melanie Hernandez, chair of the English department., “She grows by focusing on others and playing to everyone’s strengths: lifting up those around her and leveraging her skills towards the betterment of the entire community.”
De La Cerda gained an affinity for stories and forming community around storytelling from a young age. Her parents worked full-time, so she turned to the stories of historical women from her school library.
“I am a second-generation Mexican American, a product of my immigrant, field-working grandparents and a first-generation college student. I am from Parlier, a small, farm-working town,” said De La Cerda. “ Earning my M.A. is the fulfillment of a dream my grandparents had when they left everything to come to the U.S.; their goal was to see their progeny succeed.“
De La Cerda earned her AA in English and a Certificate in Communications from Reedley College. She transferred to Fresno State in 2019, earning her B.A. in English Literature in 2021. During her time at Fresno State, she has been on the President’s List and the Dean’s list and is a three-time published poet.
De La Cerda served as co-president of SESA (Students of English Studies Association), organizing and planning the annual SESA Symposium. She often volunteers at numerous city events in Parlier and is also a volunteer with the Fresno Rainbow Pride Festival.
“Mia has been an instrumental force in the leadership of SESA, and has put together one of the most self-sufficient and organized conferences in the history of SESA’s revitalization,” said J. Ashley Foster, faculty advisor to SESA.
After graduating with her M.A., De La Cerda plans to enter the English single-subject credential program at Fresno State.
“I will work as a Teaching Associate at the university while I continue my studies and serve my local schools as a substitute teacher. My long-term goal is to earn a doctorate in English and bring those skills back to the region that nurtured me. I will also continue both my creative writing and academic research,” De La Cerda said.
Hernandez described De La Cerda as “precisely the type of homegrown, civic-minded student with local roots who Fresno State strives to serve, and whose education and training, in turn, extend back into the Central Valley and enrich it tenfold.”
“At Fresno State, I, for the first time in my life, felt accepted and found a sense of belonging,” said De La Cerda. “I was encouraged to write poetry about the experience of farm laborers, tell the story of my grandparents and delve into topics that have been underrepresented. I was not only embraced by those in my department, but I was given the support and space to grow and thrive.”
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