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Fresno State Alumni Celebrated as Health and Human Services Heroes



Fresno State College of Health and Human Services alumni heroes. Top row from left, Robert Pauline, Susie Rico-Vasquez, Phil King and Katie Scalzo. Bottom row from left, Monica Connor, Tim Martinez, Amber Haydock, and Sylvia Miller. (GV Wire Composite)
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The College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State will celebrate eight individuals — all Fresno State alumni — for their contributions to the community during the 13th annual Health and Human Services Hero Awards, which will be held virtually at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, via Zoom.

The awards recognize those making a difference in the fields of health and human services through their work, service and advocacy on behalf of individuals in the Central Valley. Each honoree was nominated by an academic department, school, center or institute within the college.

“Our annual Hero Awards allow us to pause and celebrate the impressive careers and outstanding achievements of our wonderful alumni here in the College of Health and Human Services,” said Dr. Kara Zografos, acting dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State. “But above all, it gives us a chance to thank them for their service, their compassion and their commitment to the individuals they serve.”

Meet the Heroes

The 2023 Health and Human Services Heroes are:

  • Monica Connor — As deputy director of human services at Kings County, Connor is well-known for leading with care and empathy for her team of social workers, as well as the families they serve. She says advocating for the safety of all children is the motivation behind her 20-year career in the field.
  • Amber Haydock — While completing her student teaching, Haydock discovered along the way that her true calling was in deaf education. As a deaf and hard of hearing education specialist within Fresno Unified School District, Haydock empowers families to give their deaf children the best possible start in life.
  • Phil King — As an educator and coach at the Reagan Educational Center in Clovis Unified School District, King places special emphasis on the well-being and evolution of both his students and student-athletes, as well as student-teachers from Fresno State who seek his guidance.
  • Tim Martinez — His 30-year career in the entertainment and marketing industry has taken Martinez all over the world, working with some of the biggest names in show business, and he credits his education at Fresno State for being the key to his success. He now finds joy in speaking to current recreation administration students and encouraging them to dream big.
  • Sylvia Miller — A registered nurse for nearly 55 years, Miller extended her vast health care knowledge into higher education, having taught in the School of Nursing at Fresno State for 25 of those years. Before retiring in August, she also served as chair of the school and director of its Doctor of Nursing Practice program, where she impacted the lives of hundreds of nursing students and professionals.
  • Robert Pauline — Through his private physical therapy practice, Pauline takes a holistic and spiritual approach to treating his many patients and gives back his time mentoring physical therapy students from Fresno State. Being generous with his time is how he chooses to make a difference.
  • Susie Rico-Vasquez — For more than 22 years, Rico-Vasquez has dedicated her life’s work to advocating for patients, promoting health equity and being of service to the community. Today, she remains invested in the well-being of the community serving as a health educator with the Fresno County Department of Public Health.
  • Katie Scalzo — As principal of Gettysburg Elementary School in Clovis Unified, Scalzo champions physical fitness and social emotional learning for each of her students, as she believes this is the best way for students to become successful both in school and in life.
  • The Health and Human Services Hero Awards is a free, online event and is open to the public. Since the very first Hero Awards were held in 2011, 125 individuals have been honored for their leadership and commitment to their respective professions.

To register for the virtual event, contact Beth Wilkinson at

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