Josue Montoya didn’t set out to receive the Stanislaus State Class of 2021 J. Burton Vasché Award, presented annually to the student who displays the highest standards of leadership, cooperation, participation, service and scholarship.
He just followed his heart.
“I am extremely humbled and honored to have been nominated for this award,” Montoya said. “I am not so sure that I had any accomplishments to earn this reward other than giving my whole heart in all that I was doing at Stan State. It means so much to my family and me that I received such an award. It definitely motivates me to continue pouring my heart into leadership and service for my community.”
A product of Turlock’s John H. Pitman High School, Montoya knew he would attend Stan State while he was attending Merced College.
“I was asked to be part of the leadership team in the Catholic Student Association (CSA) before transferring from Merced College,” Montoya said. “I also heard Stan State had a good kinesiology program, so I was excited to join the university.”
Montoya embraced the opportunities before him as a Warrior, serving two terms as president of Stan State’s CSA, and he found fellowship in his classes.
“I have such wonderful memories with friends in various classes,” Montoya said. “I remember different labs we did for the biomechanics class, helping to lead an online exercise Instagram page for the Exercise is Medicine class, and being a part of a huge group assignment that focused on assessing vertical jump and power for the Measurements and Evaluation class. All these assignments and activities were some of the most challenging I ever faced, but with the help of others and some elbow grease, they turned out to be very rewarding and enjoyable experiences.”
Montoya points to a number of faculty members who guided and inspired him as he worked toward a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science and a minor and Spanish, but Exercise Science Lecturer Janice Herring had the greatest impact.
“Professor Herring stood out to me because of her dedication to her students,” Montoya said. “Her classes were by no means easy. She challenged us, not to discourage us but to build us up and prepare us for our future. I felt as though she really cared about her students and not just intellectually but as a whole person, wanting nothing more than to see us grow. Thanks to her and many other wonderful professors, I was able to grow in knowledge and maturity during my time at Stan State.”
Montoya’s drive is rooted in his faith. In addition to his commitment to the CSA, he has served as leader of the youth and young adult ministries at Turlock’s All Saints University Parish.
“Through these positions, I was able to invest in people, help them grow in their faith and help push them to be the best versions of themselves,” Montoya said. “I was able to mentor young children and encourage them in the right direction by teaching them morals and values and by setting a good example. We also helped serve the community through charitable work, such as making breakfast for a men’s homeless shelter.”
Montoya’s dedication to others didn’t end there. He volunteered at Golden Bear Physical Therapy and was a friend’s caretaker.
“These two experiences helped me grow tremendously in my desire to serve others with intentionality, focus and love,” he said.
Continuing to help others is Montoya’s goal as he prepares to enter the seminary program at St. Patrick’s University and Seminary in Menlo Park to pursue a Master of Divinity and gain experience in pastoral ministry. Ultimately, he dreams of becoming a priest.
“My Catholic faith has grown to be my passion, and I am driven to begin studying theology and further grow in leadership and service for others,” he said.
That faith and compassion for others developed during his time at Stan State. “I never did anything alone,” Montoya said. “I always needed help from my professors, my peers, my friends and family, and especially from God. I was always the first one to ask for help and this certainly paid off. I was also willing to help others achieve their goals. I realized college is not a competition. We are all in the same boat trying to make it to the same destination. It is a whole lot easier when we extend a helping hand to each other, and it’s much more fun.
“I learned that getting a degree means much more than finding a career or acquiring a stable salary. I learned that our degrees and everything we learn can be put to use for others, and that is certainly the best use of our degree. It is so much more enjoyable to try to creatively think of how I can use my current knowledge and abilities to help people now and in the future. I am thankful for learning this over my years at Stan State.”
He encourages current and future Stan State students to pay attention to the small details.
“Never dismiss the small assignments or minuscule tasks for school, because these will give you great practice in becoming a better student and overall individual,” Montoya said. “Above all, in whatever assignment you do, big or small, make sure you do it with lots of love. By doing this, college will become much more enjoyable and will fly by with incredible ease.”