As a little boy growing up in Mexico, Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval would wake up early on Saturday mornings and join his brother for a trek along the mountains.
After a long day with nature, Jiménez-Sandoval and his brother would return home just in time for dinner.
With mom always making sure the kids were fed and well taken care of, Jiménez-Sandoval didn’t have a lot to worry about.
At the age of 10, however, the little boy left his hometown in Zacatecas and started a new life in Fowler, where he would help his father on the farm.
For a while, Jiménez-Sandoval didn’t know if the transition to the U.S. would work so smoothly.
“When I came here, suddenly I had responsibilities,” he said. “I had to help my dad. At the beginning it was harsh to be out there in the vines, in the cold.”
As it turned out, the frigid Fowler mornings and the long days on the farm actually worked to Jiménez-Sandoval’s advantage and shaped the rest of his life.
“Later on I learned to appreciate the rhythm of the seasons,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “I began to see the value of my helping, the value of our work. I get to see the literal fruit come up on the trees because we have made it possible. That was very valuable to me.”
With his new perspective for nature and humanity, Jiménez-Sandoval discovered a desire to learn more about what life has to offer.
He carried that desire throughout his younger days at Fowler High School and his college education at University of California, Irvine.
Today, with that same passion still burning within him, Jiménez-Sandoval stands in his new position at Fresno State as dean of the College of Arts and Humanities.
“I never imagined that I would be in a situation like this,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “Even when I went to college, I planned my life within a [bachelor’s degree]. I said to myself ‘I’ll get a [bachelor’s degree] and I’ll look at my options, maybe I’ll become a teacher.’ And then with that, I developed a passion to learn more and explore.”
Having found this vision, Jiménez-Sandoval obtained a PhD in Spanish and Portuguese literature from UC Irvine and then a Certificate in Critical Theory from Cornell University.
With the vast knowledge he acquired, Jiménez-Sandoval discovered the meaning of his past and present.
“Whenever I started studying these various fields, I found myself in literature and in the potential of becoming someone within my own heritage and within my own past, but tightly knit into this society,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “That’s really the key. The key is to keep who you are, but to fully incorporate yourself into the present.”
At Fresno State, Jiménez-Sandoval has shared his passion with students since he joined the faculty in 2000.
Through his tenure as a professor of Spanish and Portuguese, as well as his work in developing the master’s degree program in Spanish, Jiménez-Sandoval’s dedication to education has been recognized by the university.
Outside of campus, Jiménez-Sandoval is recognized through his various publications on Spanish Golden Age authors, Mexican literature and Portuguese poetry.
Now, in his newest position at Fresno State, Jiménez-Sandoval is looking for another chance to move forward.
“I think every college has room to grow and I’m excited about growing the college as far as the presence in the community is concerned, as far the presence within the university also is concerned,” Jiménez-Sandoval said. “ We produce incredible gifts to the community – gift of art, gift of literature, gift of thinking.”