Coming from Gila Bend, a dusty town in southwestern Arizona with a population of 1,922, Rodolfo Basaldua got a bracing view of what education means to his community.
“I unfortunately learned that I wanted to become a teacher because of bad experiences. I come from a rural community that I am proud of but that faces many academic challenges,” he said.
Seeing children deprived of the type of learning that other communities take for granted, Basaldua decided to take matters into his own hands.
“I want to make a difference in my community by becoming a highly qualified teacher that has the knowledge and skills to implement effective teaching strategies so that students may succeed academically,” Basaldua said, adding that he still lives in Gila Bend with his wife and young son.
Basaldua earned a Bachelor of Arts through the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Elementary and Special Education dual certification program while working 24 hours each weekend - and any other days off - as a farmer to support his young family.
“I had really had no choice because my young son’s future depended on it,” he said. “I am also a dyslexic English language learner that has overcome many academic obstacles.”
Basaldua’s dedication to educating the young people of his community won’t stop now that he’s got his bachelor’s, either. He is already enrolled in a master’s degree program.
“I don’t plan on stopping until I have a doctorate within the field of education,” he said.
“But it was very well worth it because I now have the skills and knowledge that will allow me to effectively implement teaching strategies in accordance towards reaching the students’ best learning outcomes,” he said.