I was recently asked to share a testimony of how I’d seen a young person’s life transformed by Adventist education. I did not hesitate to answer: my life was turned around through Adventist education.
When I was a student at Orangewood Academy, my teacher, Robert Behr, was someone who believed in me. When I became a teacher myself, I wanted to be the kind of teacher who made a meaningful difference in the lives of his students.
Though education was not my original career choice, it is where I found my true calling. While I now serve as chair of the Administration and Leadership Department in the School of Education at La Sierra University and am also an associate professor of administration and leadership, my undergraduate degree is in journalism and mass communication from Fresno State University.
At one point early in my career when I was between jobs, a friend suggested I try substitute teaching for a while. I gave it a shot, and I loved it. That first experience was teaching first grade. I saw the impact good teaching had on children. I was really moved, and I gave serious thought to pursuing education as a career.
Shortly thereafter, an opportunity came my way to teach at an Adventist academy. I then transitioned to public school, where I taught Spanish for several years. It was during my time in the public school system that I realized how working in education was very much a form of ministry—simply by being the dedicated and encouraging teacher every student deserves. I realized that as a teacher I represent so many things to the students. It's very humbling to have that kind of impact on a young person's life.
I continued to pursue my own education, earning my Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and State of California single-subject credential in curriculum and instruction, Education Specialist (Ed.S.), and Ed.D. (Doctor of Education) from La Sierra University in order to keep better serving not just students but fellow educators too.
In summer 2022, I spent two weeks teaching at Union College, getting to know fellow teachers. I enjoy the opportunity to interact and get to know other educators and help spread good ideas and practices, all with the goal of better serving students.
Why is education so important? Why am I so passionate about it? Because education is the core building block to get you where you want to be no matter what profession you are in. My father worked in the fields, and I work in a university. The difference is education.
Specifically, I am an ardent believer in Adventist education because I believe it is one of three key points of contact young people have with Adventism, the other two being home and church. When all three points of contact are a part of a student’s life, their chances of remaining in the church later in life significantly increase.
However, I am concerned that many students are missing out on the Adventist education point of contact, often because of finances. I believe Adventist schools are the most important and viable evangelistic tool the church has. This challenge invites us to re-examine the existing structures to make Adventist education more accessible for all students.
Despite the challenges, I want to encourage parents who desire to provide their children with an Adventist education to not give up. There is power in being creative and prayerfully seeking solutions.
I built my life around education because not only did I find my place in the world, but I believe it is life changing. I try to work with a deep sense of contributing to my community. I did that in journalism, and I carried that ethos with me into education: I'm here to serve and give my best to these students. This mindset has helped carry me through challenging times. Education is where I feel most at home, most authentic and, most importantly, it is where I serve God.
Joshua Anguiano has served as an associate professor and chair of the Department of Administration and Leadership at La Sierra University since 2018. He and his wife, Ruth, are the proud parents of three adult children: Jacob, Zachary, and Rachelle.