Saul Ayala Padilla is a double major in Chicano and Latin American Studies (CLAS) and History. He is a first-generation student who says that at 40 years old, his higher education journey was full of anticipation and apprehension. Nonetheless, he decided to major in both subjects because he enjoys their fields of study.

“COSS exposes its students to a variety of people and their ideas. To recognize their agency and value their perspective with mutual respect will make us better people.”

Ayala Padilla shared his academic experience at Fresno State in a Q&A

What is your career goal? 

High school world history teacher. I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher; personal reasons delayed my preparation.

What do you think about our professors in the College of Social Sciences (COSS)?

The COSS is a welcoming space full of people with different backgrounds, ideas, and perspectives that makes college life that much more vibrant. The professors are professional, knowledgeable, passionate, caring, and funny individuals that made my apprehensions vanish within days of my first day of class. 

Did you experience any challenges as a student?

Writing continues to be a challenge for me. I graduated high school in 1997 and had not done any academic-like writing since, and even then, I was still learning English as a second language. Thankfully, I had professors that took the time to guide me in the writing process with positive results.  

What is your most memorable experience at Fresno State?

As a college student with a wife and three kids, I had always found it challenging to get deeply involved with research opportunities within my college. Therefore, I enjoyed my 100W class, researching Mexican history within the SouthWest, and their role in World War I.

How do you feel about being recognized as an outstanding student?

I can’t believe it; I demand a recount! In all seriousness, I am moved and have no words for it, and I am not known for not having anything to say.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

I am still teaching, hopefully with a master’s degree, so that I can include teaching at a community college.

What is your advice for other students?

Introduce yourself to your fellow students sitting around you, relationships will ease the burden of academic life, plus you’ll never know when you’ll need to have someone submit a paper for you in your absence. Take advantage of office hours and get to know your professors, but most importantly, have them get to know you; it will enrich both your academic and personal life.

Ayala Padilla would like to thank professors in the History and the CLAS department for their support and encouragement.

“Thank you, you genuinely challenged me intellectually. Also, thank you for pushing back at my apparent bias-beliefs. I want to thank Dr. Maria Aparecida Lopes for her kind words and guidance. Dr. Luis Macias, for his genuine care for students and a teaching model worthy of emulating. Thanks to Dr. Everett A. Vieira and Dr. Joseph Orbock Medina for their friendship. Exceptional thanks to Gabriela Encinas from the Dream Success Center, I can genuinely state that without her help and guidance, none of this could have happened. Finally, thank you, COSS, for this honor and for helping me achieve my long-held dream of obtaining a history degree.”