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SCU First Gen Staff/Faculty Profiles

Karina Gutiérrez
Assistant Professor, Theatre and Dance
Where did you attend college?

University of California, San Diego

What was your college experience like as a first-generation college student?

I was the only person from my high school to attend UCSD and the only Latina in my major, making my experience quite isolating at the start. I grew up in the small rural town of Arvin, CA (population approx. 16 thousand) and often felt like I was playing catch up in my classes. Luckily, I found some incredible professors along the way that fostered my growth as a scholar and artist and taught me the importance of mentorship and charting your own path in the industry. They introduced me to pursue a focus in Latinx/ Chicanx Theatre, forever changing my academic and artistic trajectory.

What message do you have to share with current first-generation college students?

It is often challenging to be the first. It feels like a daunting prospect to (for some) leave home, start anew, and face challenges without the immediate comforts of home. I now look fondly on these hardships because they offered me clarity of voice, path, and passion that fuels me to this very day. My experiences as a first-gen undergraduate and graduate student have taught me that we need to be who we needed and not who we got. The truth is, I know you can do this. You are already a success. You've made SCU exponentially better with your presence, and I cannot wait to learn from you.