Married Visalia couple graduates with doctoral degrees from Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno State President Joseph Castro praised friends and family for supporting graduates of the school of education on Friday night.

That praise was well deserved for Neftaly Gonzalez and her three brothers. For the last three years, they've waited patiently for mom and dad to finish the educational leadership program and earn their doctoral degrees.

"They've achieved something really great and we're all just very proud and stuff and we're happy for them," she said.

"I said you know one of the reasons I want to come to the university, I thought maybe one day I'd even marry a doctor, and so he is making my dreams come true, he'll be a doctor soon," Adriana Gonzalez joked. "She just had to be patient, she had to wait a little while," Jesus Gonzalez said.

The couple met at Fresno State in the 1990's as migrant program students. They married, got their masters, and now they're the first Fresno State CAMP students to get their doctoral degrees.

"Our parents basically came to this country and in search of work and so they've had to work laborious jobs throughout," Adriana Gonzalez said. "And so they saw coming to this country as a benefit for their children and we are the benefactors of that."

"They really supported each other throughout the program but there were sometimes where it was a little competitive," said Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership Director Kenneth Magdaleno. "And yet their experience in the Central Valley was really critically important."

After they walk, Magdaleno wants the couple to take what they've learned and use it to create change and challenge the status quo in education. He says their journey is just beginning.

But now, instead of being at the library until 3 a.m., they'll be at home, with the family that helped get them.
The couple will now take the skills they've learned and return to Visalia Unified School District.

Two of the Gonzalez kids want to be scientists, one a police officer, and the other, a teacher who would also like to get his doctoral degree.
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