May 16, 2024
Isaiah Ophaso

As a first-generation college student and the oldest of five siblings, Isaiah Ophaso said he felt a lot of pressure to be the first in his family to earn a degree. Through his determination, hard work and the support of family and friends, Ophaso will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. 

He faced numerous challenges along the way, from adapting socially to coping with remote learning during the pandemic. 

“The biggest struggle was my mental health, especially during the pandemic,” he said. “It set me back a lot, to the point where I almost dropped out of school.” 

Through his involvement in clubs around campus, Ophaso found a sense of community and purpose. 

“I’ve been able to connect with people who have similar goals because I was able to put myself out there and leave my comfort zone,” he said. 

Beginning his journey in fall of 2019, Ophaso persevered despite the pandemic. He has been on the dean’s list five times and will be on the dean’s list once more after finishing his spring semester. 

Reflecting on his growth over the years, Isaiah recognizes the importance of embracing every achievement.  

“I have been able to acknowledge that even the smallest accomplishments are enough,” he said. “When I stopped hiding from the world and came out of my shell, I recognized how important it is to enjoy the little things in life.” 

Ophaso is eager to continue his educational journey and pursue his passion for teaching. He plans on returning to Stan State in the fall to pursue a multiple subject teaching credential. 

“I want to leave an impact on students by providing the kind of help or resources that I might have been missing when I was younger,” Ophaso said. “I aspire to be a bridge for students and education, so they don’t feel isolated or alone.” 

#StanGrad File


Isaiah Ophaso


Riverbank, CA


Bachelor of Arts Liberal Studies with a concentration in English

What memories stand out most from your time at Stanislaus State?

“When I think of any memories that stand out most from my time at Stanislaus State, it would be my first two years living on-campus in student housing. Moving away from home and being in a totally new environment was a difficult adjustment, but I grew out of my shell slowly. I am still friends with the people I first met there.” 

Which faculty or staff member had the greatest impact on you, and why?

“Dr. Ana York is an instant go-to when it comes to who has left an impact on me. As an advisor to the Aspiring Educators club, she assisted me on my path to becoming a future teacher. I look up to Dr. York in so many ways, and I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, including those yet to come!” 

What advice would you give to current and future students?

“Enjoy the little things in life! Always find a way to take care of yourself; your physical and mental health should always come first. Don’t forget that it’s OK to take a step back and give yourself some room to breathe instead of burning out.” 

Note: This article is part of the StanGrad series highlighting Stanislaus State students who are part of the Class of 2024. Read more StanGrad profiles.