During the first week of November, our vast community of first-gen students were celebrated at various fun, festive and informative events on campus. Held every year during the week of National First-Gen Celebration Day, the university’s First-Gen Celebration Week recognizes the achievements made by more than 10,000 Longhorns who will be the first in their families to earn a four-year degree or higher from a college or university.
We caught up with Lucia Diaz, a San Antonio native and psychology freshman who has found her community within the DDCE’s First-Gen Equity program. Read on to learn more about Diaz’s accomplishments, the challenges she faced along the way, and how she plans to chart a bright future ahead in the field of health care.
Why is it important for first-gen students to find their community on campus?
It is important for first-gen students to find their community with programs like this because it makes us feel like we are not alone. Surrounding yourself with people who can relate to you makes a big difference in this new chapter of your life.
What was a big challenge you had to overcome as a first-gen student?
A big challenge for me was overcoming imposter syndrome. At the start of the semester, I really struggled to feel like I belonged here, and thought I couldn’t handle the academic rigor of my classes. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t tell my family or even friends back home because they’ve never experienced anything like this. However, my narrative has changed after finding my sense of community at UT. I am here for a reason, and I can do this!
What advice would you give to your fellow first-gen students who are experiencing similar challenges?
I would tell them to not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Utilize spaces and resources like First-Gen Equity because that is what they are there for.
What have you accomplished thus far on your career path?
I received my associates degree from my local community college, officially making me the first in my family to receive a college degree. Now, I’m on the Pre-Physician’s Assistant track, and I’m pursuing the Pre-Health Professions Certificate. I’m also a member of the Dell Medical School Pre Health & Diversity Scholars.
What do you enjoy most about being a UT student?
I have enjoyed meeting new people the most. The diversity of students who are from all over the U.S—and from all over the world—is amazing.
Would you like to give a shout-out to anyone on campus who has helped you along your journey?
Special shout out to my First-Gen Living Learning Community mentor, Isabel Alvarado, for helping me navigate my freshman year at UT and always giving the best advice!
More About First-Gen Equity
Housed within the Longhorn Center for Academic Equity, First Gen Equity serves students whose parents or guardians did not receive a four-year degree or higher from a college or university in the United States. With a focus on success—in college and beyond—First Gen Equity provides a community on campus as well as a support network with faculty, staff, alumni and mentors. Throughout the school year, the program provides celebratory events, professional development workshops, resources and more.