#CYPossible: Fernando Rodriguez, Math

Fernando left Cypress College many years ago but credits the faculty here with making him who he is today. He has had a 14-year, award-winning teaching career. Fernando currently teaches math at Buena Park High School, where he was awarded the Buena Park High School Teacher of the Year award in 2014. He now inspires students to love mathematics, just as his Cypress instructors did for him.

Please tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your interests? What is your story?

I came from a low socioeconomic, farm-working family that immigrated to the United States from the state of Michoacan, Mexico. Both of my parents worked in the strawberry fields located in Orange County and Irvine. When the strawberry season was over, we would move to Northern California (Delano), and my parents would pick grapes and tomatoes. My parents would bring us to the fields to help them when we were young. Thus, at a very young age I knew what I did not want to do for the rest of my life. I am the second oldest out of five siblings and a “first generation” college graduate. I grew up in the city of Cypress and attended Mackey/King Elementary, Walker Junior High, and Kennedy High School. I was an English learner and school was difficult for me.

Why did you choose to attend Cypress College and how did being a student here help you find your first position after completion?

I decided to attend Cypress College because it was close to my home and I could walk there. Reading and writing were my weaknesses so I took more English classes than I needed to better my skills. My strength was in mathematics, so I took many math classes at Cypress College all the way up to Calculus 250A. I then transferred to California State University, Fullerton.

What were you involved in at Cypress College? How did your path unfold and who were the faculty and staff who have helped you along that path?

I was not involved in any sports or clubs while attending Cypress College. I had to work to pay for tuition. I paid my way through college, including my master’s degree. Among the staff members who helped mold who I am today were: my English teachers, Sandra Schaefer and John Weber; and my Math teachers David Petrie, Cindy Shrout, Minnie Allison, Larry Smith, and Christina Plett.

What did you pursue after completing your studies at Cypress College (at your transfer institution, in the workforce, etc.) and where are you now?

After pursuing my studies at Cypress College, I transferred to CSUF and majored in mathematics. Afterward, I enrolled into CSUF’s credential program and received my Single Subject Teaching Credential in Mathematics. I then came into the teaching profession and returned to CSUF and received a master’s in science. I am currently teaching Algebra I, Algebra II Honors, and AP-Calculus at Buena Park High School.

What are your long-term goals? What do you aspire to?

My wife, Rosa Monica, and I have two boys. Fernando is 15 years old and a ninth grader at Oxford Academy in Cypress; Daniel is finishing sixth grade, and will be attending Lexington Jr. High in Cypress. My long-term goals are to make both of my son’s education paths smoother than mine. I have always instilled the importance of education to my children from a very young age. Fernando is currently taking Calculus 150AC at Cypress College through the special admit program. When the time comes and is appropriate, Daniel will take classes at Cypress College, too.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

I am most passionate about my job. I really enjoy teaching and working with the next generation. I’m a member and been a presenter of many mathematics committees including: California Mathematics Council (CMC), California Mathematics Council – South (CMC-S), and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my family and my accomplishments. I really enjoy my job and I go out of my way to reach all my students. In the 2014-2015 school year, I was named Buena Park High School Teacher of The Year; one week later, I was named Fullerton Joint Union High School District Teacher of The Year as well. My parents taught me and my siblings when we were young that “hard work would get you far.” I’m glad I listened to my parents and my college professors’ advice.

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Neither my parents nor I understood the rules of the game. If I could do it all over again, I would take as many honors and AP classes through high school [as I could]. This would help me receive college credit and would allow me to accelerate.

What one bit of advice would you give to current and future Cypress College students?

The advice I would give to current and future students at Cypress College is not to give up. Cypress College is an excellent place to mold your future. The staff is well prepared and very friendly and helpful.