Stories: Students

My Road to an MBA as a First-Gen DACA Student

This article originally appeared in the Graduate School of Management Blog. Original Article

Victor Moreno, MBA '21

When I was seven years old, my brother Max and I got our hands on a fun set of candies. Engraved on the flat surface of the circle-shaped lollipops was a short message, sort of like a fortune cookie. I forget what my brother’s “fortune” was, but mine was pretty cool. It said: “Viajaras pronto,” Spanish for: “You will soon travel.”

The Journey Continues: Paula Soto '21

I grew up in a Mexican immigrant family household in Southeast Los Angeles. I am the oldest and the first to attend college in hopes of being a role model for my younger siblings. I was encouraged to go to college by my middle school teachers and my dad, who told me to aim higher and never give up. Because of them, college was something I knew I wanted, and I got it. And I never gave up on school, even in those moments when it got tough and I was worried about failing. 

Uncertainty Brings a New Path

Gabriella (Gabi) Gonzalez '20 - B.S., Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior, and B.A., Psychology

You have to be better than us: These are words that I heard often when I was growing up. My family made incredible sacrifices that have afforded me the education I have today. Most of my ancestors worked in physically-grueling jobs for menial wages, and my great-grandfather worked so hard that he passed away from exhaustion. My parents had to drop out of community college to support their own parents.

Ivory Tower -- Or Just a Big Mountain?

Trevor Waldien PhD Student, Geology           

I grew up in a rural logging town in coastal Oregon. I come from four generations of loggers and log truck drivers. In high school I was exposed to geology by a teacher on a field trip to the beach that left me with a set of questions: "Why are there sea shells in rocks on the top of the mountain? Why are those rocks tilted on their side?" 

Sometime during high school, I decided I was going to go to college to study geology.

I Got My Dream Job as an Urban Planner

Irving Huerta '20 - Sustainable Environmental Design and Political Science - Public Service

By Irving Huerta with Hailey Chatterton '20

I graduated in the middle of a pandemic with two degrees in hand, and my dream job as an urban planner.  I could not be more proud of how far I have come.... If I made it this far, I know that you can too!

An Opportunity to Change My Reality

Jessica Bueno '20, Animal Science 

By Jessica Bueno with Hailey Chatterton

I feel very blessed right now. 

Maybe that’s an unusual statement for 2020, but looking at the bigger picture, I have a lot to be grateful for. Not only did I graduate from my dream college, but I have a new goal and a plan I’m proud of, and I’ve had some memorable experiences along the way. 

My Name is Wilbert: A Thank You Letter

Wilbert De Leon '20  B.A. Communication, B.A. Economics - Behavior and Strategy Emphasis

This stole is a symbol of my perseverance, grit, and determination to meet my goals — an artifact to display on my wall for years to look at and tell myself, "I did that." 

My first-gen story does not start with me. It starts with my parents.

Researching Workers' Rights in Vietnam: My Past and Future Come Together

Eric Thai '20 discovers his academic pathway and his family history converge in research. 

“What is a Ph.D.?” My immigrant father asked.

He was understandably concerned about my plans to spend another 4-5 years pursuing another degree.

“A Ph.D. is a degree that prepares me to ask questions and contribute knowledge to the world.”

Seeing how stumped my dad was, I pulled out a pen and paper and started drawing concentric circles representing expanding bands of knowledge, with a Ph.D. as a mountain rising on the outer layer – and at its peak, an academic career.

From Farm Worker to PhD: My 10-Year Journey

Erika Estrada BS, Biological Science '16; PhD Student, Food Science

Ten years ago I arrived alone in the US with nothing but a dream. Now I am proud to call myself a scientist, a PhD student, and a mentor. My family, while loving and supportive, never imagined that I would become a scientist. To be honest, neither did I.