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Leavey School of Business Santa Clara University

Leavey Ambassadors Program Blogs

Antonio Varela: The Journey as a First-Generation Student

Strategies on establishing connections, utilizing campus resources, and embracing diversity as a first-generation student.

Antonio Varela Blog photo

Embarking on a college journey as a first-generation student can be both exhilarating and challenging. As the first in your family to pursue higher education, finding your place on campus might feel overwhelming. However, by adopting a proactive and open-minded approach, you can embrace this experience. I know when I first arrived on campus, I felt very nervous to be away from home, in a completely different state, and without my family for the first time. Here are some strategies I used to help me navigate the journey that is being a first-generation student. 

The first would be establishing connections. Seek out opportunities to meet fellow students, faculty, and staff through social events, clubs, and organizations. Don’t be afraid to say hello to the person you are sitting next to in class, engage in conversations, attend on campus events, go to office hours, and foster friendships. Every quarter it felt like clubs were tabling outside of SCU’s Benson Center, and joining student clubs related to your interests or major can provide an instant community of like-minded individuals who share your passions. 

Secondly, SCU offers numerous resources designed to support our success as students, and it is essential to take advantage of them. Visit the campus career center for guidance on internships, resume building, and job opportunities. Seek academic assistance through the Drahmann Center or the HUB for tutoring or writing help. Familiarize yourself with the campus library, research facilities, and online databases to make the most of available resources. I believe the prime resource on campus for first-generation students in particular would have to be the LEAD Scholars Program. LEAD is a program for first-generation students (whose parents did not graduate from a 4-year college or university) that provides academic and vocational development opportunities through supportive advising, peer mentoring, and a variety of courses and programs. Being a part of LEAD has given me the opportunity to make friends and meet mentors who know the same struggles as me that come with being a first-generation student. 

Lastly, SCU is rich with diversity, encompassing students from various backgrounds, cultures, and experiences. Embrace this diversity by participating in our multicultural events, taking classes, or joining student organizations that celebrate inclusivity. All of us carry a unique background and journey that brought us to college, so don’t be afraid to embrace your identity and share your experiences with others! 

Fitting in as a first-generation student on campus is an exciting opportunity for personal and academic growth. Remember, you are not alone, and there are resources and communities available here at SCU to support you every step of the way!

Leavey Ambassadors Program Blogs 2023-2024