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College Degree in 3 Years? Fresno Pacific Creates New Fast Track



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Fresno Pacific University students can shave a year off their time in college through a new university option for a degree in three years and a teaching certificate in four. But they’ll have to go to summer school to get there.

The university is guaranteeing a schedule that will put the students on a fast track to bachelor’s degrees in several areas of business, English, biology, mathematics, and chemistry, said Krista Brooks, director of undergraduate admission.

Nancy Price

School Zone

“While not all programs/majors are eligible for the three-year option due to curriculum nuances, we do currently offer it for 13 programs and are working on expanding it to more over the next few months,” Brooks said in an email.

Students will be able to wrap up their fourth year earning their teaching certificate and move into the work world a year early, saving them time and money, said Jon Endicott, vice president for enrollment management at Fresno Pacific.

The new schedule formalizes what’s already been happening for some students at the southeast Fresno private university, Endicott told GV Wire. Increasing numbers of high schoolers are graduating with dual enrollment community college credits or AP credits and want to accelerate their undergraduate coursework, he said.

“We’ve even had some some high school seniors graduate with AA degrees,” Endicott said.

University faculty and program directors are committed to making sure that courses will be available to students on the fast track when they need them, he said.

Students who are on financial aid such as federal Pell Grants will get assistance for their summer school classes as well, Endicott said. Students on three-year schedules will receive academic and financial advice from university officials assigned to assist them, he said.

Fresno Pacific will continue to provide a traditional four-year schedule for students who want it. They may include student-athletes who want to maintain four years of eligibility or students who need to work or are juggling family responsibilities would be hard-pressed to increase their academic workload, he said.

Also in School Zone: 

  • Clovis Unified hands out big bucks.
  • Fresno State alum will wax poetic for city of Fresno.
  • Kudos to award and scholarship winners.

A Big Thank-you to Clovis Unified Employees

Clovis Unified employees will be getting extra cash in their paychecks, but don’t call it a bonus.

The district is shelling out $20 million to provide “work stipends” to its full-time and part-time workers. Full-timers will get $4,000, and part-timers will get a lesser share.

District spokeswoman Kelly Avants told GV Wire that Clovis Unified is among a number of area districts that have been providing stipends to staffers.

The source of the $20 million? Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell clarified that the district was using budget savings, not COVID-19 dollars, to cover the stipend cost.

The proposal got the thumbs-up last week from trustees, who put their mouths where their money was as they profusely — and in the case of one trustee, tearfully — thanked employees for their hard work during the pandemic.

Trustee Tiffany Stoker Madsen noted that the past 13 months have at times been “messy and far from perfect, but I really feel like every employee has stepped up and done what they could to make the best of it.”

When schools reopened for in-person learning, Madsen said, her daughter was one of only two students returning to her classroom, leading some to question why school officials were making the effort for so few students.

“Because it made a difference for those two kids,” she said and then paused before adding in a tearful voice, “I haven’t cried at a board meeting for a while — it’s about time,” as chuckles erupted from the audience. “You know, elementary kids have had the opportunity to do some sports after school and I picked my daughter up and there’s not very many of them in the activity, but it made a difference for those kids. So thank you for going to the effort for that kid, wherever that kid might be. So thank you.”

Trustee Yolanda Moore said trustees share with the Faculty Senate the desire to “take care of our people. I too am excited about this resolution that we’re getting ready to vote on. I just wanted to say thank you to all of our employees for everything that you guys do.”

The recommendation for the one-time payment came from the Employee Compensation Committee, which has representatives from the district’s workforce and had been considering it for months, district officials said.

The source of the $20 million? Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell clarified that the district was using budget savings, not COVID-19 dollars, to cover the stipend cost.

“And so really what has resulted is that our general fund has a very healthy reserve and this one-time, off-schedule recognition amount is from those funds,” she said.

Kristin Heimerdinger, who is one of the Clovis Unified teachers leading an effort to start a union, said the district was playing catch-up with other districts that had already provided stipends to staff as a thank you for the extra workload caused by the pandemic. And although district officials maintain that conversations were underway for months, Heimerdinger said the district may also have been feeling the pressure of the union-organizing efforts, which were ongoing before the official announcement on April 5.

Fresno’s New Poet Laureate Is a Bulldog

Poetry is practically the family biz for the city of Fresno’s newest poet laureate, Megan Anderson Bohigian, a longtime Fresno educator and the third Fresno State alum to be named the city’s literary ambassador.

Like her predecessors in the post, Bohigian is a graduate of the College of Arts and Humanities. Bohigian, who was sworn in for her two-year stint on April 22 by Mayor Jerry Dyer, is the author of two poetry collections: “Sightlines,” published in 2013 by Tourane Poetry Press; and “Vanishing Point,” published in 2018 by The Orchard Street Press.

Her father Albert T. Anderson was a writing instructor at San Francisco State before his death at age 36. Her cousins Philip and Michael Dow helped take care of her after her father’s death and themselves became published poets later in their lives.

“It’s fair to say I’m from a poetry family,” Bohigian said. “Poetry was a source of joy. My father’s poems, which I still have, are very powerful and playful.”

Watch: Megan Bohigian Read Poem Dedicated to Fresno

Bohigian, who taught at Roosevelt High, co-organized with school librarian Sandra Gutierrez an annual series of poetry week gatherings for more than a decade. The gatherings attracted Central Valley writers who read their works and shared creative writing activities with classrooms and auditoriums packed with students.

She’s considering similar gatherings, perhaps as pop-up events that could travel to local schools and public libraries: “There’s no librarian in Fresno who’d say no!”

Bohigian is the city’s fifth poet laureate. The first was James Tyner, a librarian for the Fresno County Public Library who served from 2013-15. Tyner earned both his master’s in fine arts in creative writing and his bachelor’s in English from Fresno State. Fresno State Marisol Baca, an English instructor at Fresno City College, served from 2019-21. Baca earned her bachelor’s degree in English from Fresno State.

Congratulations to All

  • Madera High School student Scott Martinez was awarded a $180,000 Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship from the United States Marine Corps. He is one of three students in the Central Valley to receive the Marine Corps scholarship and was chosen from hundreds of applicants. Martinez will be able to use the scholarship for any college or university with an ROTC program. After graduating from college he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
  • Three Clovis Unified schools — Clovis East High, Freedom Elementary, and Maple Creek Elementary — earned a Civic Learning Award of Merit for 2021. A total of 32 California schools were named this year’s recipients of the Civic Learning Awards, an honor that recognizes achievements in civic engagement in the classroom. Now in its ninth year, the Civic Learning Awards are part of the California Courts Chief Justice’s Civic Learning Initiative, which includes other programs like Judges in the Classroom.
  • The Fresno State Winery collected its first medals of the year at the San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition, where student-made wines won one gold medal and three silver medals. They were evaluated against nearly 5,700 wines from over 1,000 wineries in the competition, the largest in North America. Fresno State’s 2019 Chardonnay Carneros, a first edition made from Sonoma Valley grapes, received a gold medal. The 2018 Presidents Reserve Barbera, grown from fruit from the 120-acre campus vineyard, received a silver medal. Also receiving silver medals were the 2018 Alicante Bouschet, sourced grapes from the Papagni Wines vineyard near Madera, and the 2018 Sergeant Zinfandel, made from Amador County grapes.
  • The Foundation for Clovis Schools introduced its 2021 Students of Promise, 16 juniors who have faced challenges and adversity in their lives but persevered to be successful in their school careers. The foundation’s annual gala is not being held due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the students, who will receive a $2,000 college scholarship, will be honored next year along with the 2022 honorees. The 2021 students are: Brielle Aguilar, Dennis Cardenas, Robert Flath, Serenity Jones, and Arijana Laird of Clovis East High; Taryn Anderson, Dakota Dean, Donovan Dean, and Montray Skinner of Clovis High; Logan Earheart and Victor Guerrero of Clovis West; Alexis Foshee and Heaver Vallejos of Clovis North; Crispine Garcia Espinosa and Knox Folsom of Buchanan High; and Micaela Villa Sanchez of Gateway High.

Students of Promise Video

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email