Jonathan Bechtol, inspiration for first generation students


Gayana Parsegova

Professor Jonathan Bechtol prepares for his lecture on the significance of Balboa Park’s history.

Gayana Parsegova, Staff Writer

As a man of great wisdom and integrity, Professor Jonathan Bechtol serves as an inspiration for those who have an appetite for success within higher education due to his experience of having been a first-generation college student.

Bechtol was originally a CSUSM student himself and commuted from Fallbrook as an undergrad student. Initially, he was an anthropology major, but realized that his love for history was much stronger and ended up switching his major.

Bechtol said that one of the goals in his classroom is to make history relevant.

“I love trying to make history as relatable as possible to my students, especially modern history. The history that is going on today is definitely essential for this generation to know,” said Bechtol.

Professor Bechtol was just like us college students today. Transitioning from high school to a four-year university was not as easy as he anticipated it to be.

Given that he was a first-generation college student, he was overwhelmed by the new challenge that was placed before him.

Although both of his parents had always strongly encouraged him and his brother to attend college, it was easier said than done. He had to figure out enrollment and find a way to stay financially stable; at times he was somewhat discouraged.

Thankfully, with the help of CSUSM’s Summer Bridge Program he’d taken prior to entering his first year, the obstacles that he once found to be a burden were manageable.

“I’m thankful to be a CSUSM graduate. It’s been an amazing opportunity for me. And I love giving back to this community, especially helping out first-generation students like I once was, to encourage and support them, and [show them] … that they can get to college and finish, no matter the situation.”

He said he never realized, however, that he would become a history professor at CSUSM. After receiving his B.A. in history, he went on to acquire his master’s. Afterwards, he went to work in the business world in marketing.

Unfortunately, he said he didn’t feel that this was his true calling in life. Shortly afterward, he received a call from his former mentor from CSUSM asking him to be a professor in the history department, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“Cal State does an excellent job of staying connected with their community. Although the university is still young, it’s amazing to see how much it has grown the past 15 years I’ve been here. I’ll always be thankful to have been given the opportunity to be able to teach what I love at this school.”