Written by: Phylisha Chaidez, media, communications and journalism student.
Photography by: John Charles, media, communications and journalism student.
In the summer of 2006, at just 11 years old, Shoghig Stanboulian was in constant fear for her life. The sounds of war have stuck with her 13 years later as she thinks back to the 2006 Lebanon War, in which 1,000 Lebanese people are believed to have been killed.
“There were several bombs that were being dropped near my village and, to this day, I still remember the horror and the terrible, loud noises,” Stanboulian said. She and her family were among the 1 million Lebanese people displaced due to the war.
Two years after the war, Stanboulian and her family moved to the United States for safety and better educational opportunities. Yet, she still had to overcome obstacles many immigrants face when coming to a new country.
“I honestly felt like a fish out of water. I did not speak English very well, and I just felt like an outsider,” Stanboulian said. “I was in complete culture shock. It took me at least five years to adjust to the American culture.”
After adjusting, Stanboulian became the first in her family to go to college. As a first-generation college student, she graduated from Fresno State, summa cum laude (a 3.9 GPA or higher), and received the 2017 Outstanding Student Award from the Department of Biology.
With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a teaching credential, Stanboulian is now a fifth-grade teacher with a class of 32 students at Centennial Elementary School, and she is pursuing a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.
Kremen Alumni Oktoberfest
Because of Stanboulian’s continuous excellence in academics, last year she received a $2,000 scholarship made possible by funds raised at last year’s annual Kremen Alumni Oktoberfest. This event, hosted by the Kremen School of Education and Human Development’s alumni and friends chapter, raised $28,000 last year for the scholarship program, resulting in 14 scholarships awarded.
Kremen School alumni and friends are invited to support future educators and leaders like Stanboulian by attending this year’s Oktoberfest at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at Sequoia Brewing Company (1188 E. Champlain Dr.).
“I was very happy and grateful when I found out I received the Kremen School of Education Alumni Chapter Scholarship Award,” Stanboulian said. “This scholarship lifted a big financial burden off my shoulders.”
Today, Stanboulian works toward bridging the gap between minority students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds and their peers when it comes to learning mathematics. By implementing culturally responsive mathematics teaching, her goal is to celebrate the cultural element of learning that textbooks lack while giving disadvantaged students an opportunity to solve problems that culturally relate to them.
“Learning is my passion, I feel like there is so much for me to learn and continue growing,” Stanboulian said. “I feel like I am making a difference every day when I am going to work. I am not only teaching content for my kids, but I am teaching them social and life skills that they can utilize to be successful in their futures.”
The Kremen Alumni Oktoberfest event will include a live band and a German-inspired buffet. Attendees are encouraged to participate in a silent auction with items donated from local businesses and restaurants such as Dog House Grill, Vino Grille, Spirits, Erna’s Elderberry House and more.