On April 26th, 2018, we hosted our final Campus Conexiones Speaker Series for the spring semester. Our spotlight guest was Professor Juan Bernal. In addition to being an engaging math professor here at Mesa College, Professor Bernal is a member of our Hispanic Serving Institution, Title V Grant team. As our course re-designer for math, Professor Bernal, in collaboration with Professor Kelly Spoon, designed the Mathletics Program, which piloted in the summer of 2017 (year 3 of the grant). Now being held in the summer, and winter, with an evening program being offered this summer, Professor Bernal and Professor Spoon, along with other math faculty, continue to facilitate the program as well as coordinate weekly follow-up workshops throughout the semester.
We were thrilled to end the semester with a standing room only crowd. The turn-out for this event was amazing, and many of the audience could relate to Juan’s struggles and resilience to overcome. It’s always refreshing to discover that we are not alone in the obstacles life throws our way, and Juan was quite transparent in the trials he faced to achieve what he has today. He shared about making decisions that weren’t necessarily the ones he wanted to make, but they were the best choices for him at that time in his life. His willingness to sacrifice revealed his commitment to a successful future.
When asked why he chose to specialize in Math, Juan revealed his passion to make a difference in a field that is discriminated against. He expressed that even though it was a more difficult path to follow, he discovered that he loved math and he wasn’t going to let anyone take that away from him or discourage him. Juan admitted that he could work anywhere with his degree; at UCSD, SDSU, in data analysis at any high end corporation, but that is not what it is about for him. He believes that community college is the best place for him to effect change in the lives of students while redeveloping the way math is taught. His commitment is evident in his continued dedication to introduce new methods of teaching math with affective domains. We are so glad that he has chosen Mesa to do so.
Finally, when invited to share his message to students, this is what he had to say:
“Keep going. Shoot for the moon, even if you only get a star, shoot for it. Education is very strong, and you are not alone, you can do it. We all go through life, if you can surpass this, you can surpass anything. If you don’t believe in yourself, I believe in you.”
Remember the support that is here for you.