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Proud to Be First

A Q&A with First-Gen Longhorn Lucia Diaz
First Gen Longhorn student Lucia

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!

Goofy group shot first gen equity students
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.

Portrait by Abbie Bard