Written by: Esra Hashem, Fresno State Marketing Strategist
For teaching credential student Kiana Medina, school has always been a sanctuary.
“I was never really social. I never really socially fit in … I was bullied a lot. But I found my home in what was academia,” she said.
As a child, the Fresno native bonded with teachers over her love of learning — particularly her third grade teacher, Nancy Montanez, at Holland Elementary School.
Teachers like Montanez inspired Medina to pursue a career as an elementary schoolteacher.
“School has always been my sanctuary. I love learning, I love reading and I just want to invoke that in other students,” she said.
Medina is now a volunteer teacher’s aide in Montanez’s classroom at Holland Elementary. She is using the skills she learns in Fresno State’s teaching credential program to make a positive difference in children’s lives.
“Medina is just like a bright sunshine,” said Montanez, who is also an alumna of Fresno State. “The kids look up to her. The kids love her.”
Having grown up feeling alienated from others, Medina said she makes it her goal to create an inclusive school environment.
As a student at University High School, Medina helped mobilize the Gender and Sexuality Alliance to create a more welcoming campus culture. Under her leadership, the club grew from four students “in a room eating chips” to 100 students.
“That’s definitely when I came out of my shell,” Medina said. “I think that’s where my love for advocacy stems from. It’s just about helping others. A lot of people leave the Valley because they don’t feel like, as an LGBTQ+ person, there’s a place for them.”