Elizabeth Barba is not only throwing herself at all the education opportunities that her parents didn’t have, but the 22-year-old liberal studies major is excelling.
Not only that, but the dean’s medalist from the Fresno State Kremen School of Education and Human Development can speak three languages: English, Spanish and French!
“I went to Computech Middle School where they offered Spanish and French for foreign language,” said Barba, who was born in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, México. “I wanted to take on a different language.”
So, French it was. Barba continued to learn it in high school; and has earned a minor in French at Fresno State.
“What’s the point of taking French for so many years if you’re not getting a degree in it?” she asked. “So, I minored in it.”
She is graduating from Fresno State with a 3.56 GPA. She is the daughter of José and María Barba.
Barba, who has three younger brothers, is a candidate for the Fresno Teacher Residency program. She has helped students at Burroughs Elementary and Kings Canyon Head Start.
She has also worked with the Fresno State Office of Community-Based Learning.
What’s the point of taking French for so many years if you’re not getting a degree in it? So, I minored in it.
Elizabeth Barba, Fresno State dean’s medalist from the Kremen School of Education and Human Development
The education her parents never got is her passion.
“My mom never really got far in her education,” said Barba. “My dad didn’t as well because of his struggles. He would be bullied a lot in school.”
Her father managed to get his diploma from Tranquillity High School. He is a storekeeper at St. Agnes
Her brother, Julián, is a sophomore at Fresno State. Sebastián is at Sunnyside High, and Damián attends Kings Canyon Middle School.
Barba said her parents impressed on her the value of an education.
“We have the privilege that a majority of people out there don’t have,” she said. “They have always pushed that education is important. It was instilled in my brain.”
Barba, a 2014 graduate of Edison High School, knew she would keep studying past high school.
She still talks with her teachers from kindergarten and first grade because of the impact they had on her.
“Education doesn’t have to be boring,” said Barba, who has recently been a substitute teacher in the Fresno Unified School District.
Reading is also a passion, especially when she is reading to younger students.
“I noticed lately how I love seeing their faces light up when you tell them a certain story and they actually understand what they are reading,” said Barba. “I love reading!”
Barba didn’t think she would get the dean’s medalist, because “there are so many students above and beyond what I do.”
She was talking with her mother about her unlikely chance of being selected when a call arrived.
“It was surprising. It was such a proud moment for me, and very humbling,” said Barba.
Barba became a U.S. citizen her sophomore year in high school.