Fresno woman and mother of 7 returns to school to become teacher, encourage change

It's the future generations, including her own seven children, she's thinking of and that is what her professors are noticing.

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ByNic Garcia via KFSN logo
Thursday, September 29, 2022
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A Fresno woman has returned to college after 20 years to continue her dream of higher education. She is on a mission to invoke change.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno woman has returned to college after 20 years to continue her dream of higher education. She is on a mission to invoke change.

Patricia Becerra decided to stop attending classes at Fresno State in 2002 to take care of her two oldest boys -- who both have special needs.

Now, she's a student on campus once again but has had five kids since then and a career as a paramedic.

"It's hard to keep your eye on the prize, but -- that's how you get there," said Becerra.

She is determined to get there.

For now -- there is earning her bachelors degree at Fresno State to become a bilingual teacher.

"My kids are watching, so I have to do better -- for me, for them, and the future generations," said Becerra.

It's the future generations, including her own seven children, she's thinking of and that is what her professors are noticing.

"She's a fearless advocate and that's what we need when we are up against insurmountable odds," said Dr. Luis Fernando Macias, a Chicano and Latin American Studies professor at Fresno State.

Hispanic and Latino enrollment in the CSU and UC is at an all-time high, but the faculty to match the representation is still comparatively low.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports of all full-time faculty members of U.S. colleges and universities, just 6 percent are Hispanic.

"Universities were not built for us. They were built by us, they are maintained by us but they were not built for us, so the fact that you are here -- you are doing something tremendous," said Macias.

Trailblazers have paved the way for Chicano and Latino Studies departments to even exist. In a way, Patricia is a new kind of trailblazer.

Over the past 20 years, she has gotten married and had a family.

She also spent those two decades working as a paramedic.

At 43, Patricia's return to Fresno State has her thinking about her culture, her upbringing and how it can help future students.

"There's things you grow up with in family and traditions, but when you hear academic-wise, when you see another Latinx teacher represent you in higher education, you learn all these other things and you become more interested because you're learning more about your history," said Becerra.

A busy mom, who also homeschools and works as a substitute teacher, she leans on her support system which includes her husband and her mom.

Her mission is to empower other Latinas to pursue higher education, no matter their age or circumstance. She looks to Latinas with their masters and doctorate degrees for guidance.

After she gets her bachelors, she says she'll get her masters, then her doctorate.

She also draws inspiration from another strong woman -- her late grandmother, who's spirit is still encouraging.

"She would say 'si, lo puedes hacer porque eres mi nieta,'" she said. In English, it means "You can do it, because you're my granddaughter."

With that, Patricia has all the strength she needs to get there, wherever life takes her.