G1DPR Alumni share the real story of college at Summer Send-off Luncheon

The speakers at our Summer Send-off Luncheon were dynamic, interesting and phenomenal! Both are El Rancho High School graduates and went through the Generation 1st Degree program; Justin Uribe is in his first year of business studies at UC Berkeley and John Barrios recently graduated from Yale University. Each of them had unique perspectives on the college life and gave students a good idea of what they might feel, see and do when they get to their respective campuses.

Justin Uribe –

When I applied to UC Berkeley, I had no idea what it was. I was paired with the college admissions officer, who told me about the school and I applied. Now I’ve finished my first year and it was a transforming year. I had the chance to interact with all sorts of ideas circling around, I even had the chance to sit down and have breakfast with my professor who was light years ahead of me and opened my eyes to so much. Not all my experiences had to do with my majors. College is fun, college is great, but it isn’t easy. You should be challenged. You may experience your first failure. You won’t be the smartest person in the room. But just because you may fail at some things doesn’t mean that you won’t succeed. Don’t be afraid to change your major. What you are passionate about when you start may change as you learn about new things. Don’t feel committed for your entire life; that once you choose a career that you’re stuck with it if it doesn’t excite you. College is the place to learn and change. Learn about different people’s culture, and backgrounds. Have discussions with other people. They will push you. You may not be used to asking for help, but find your resources and give yourself a chance to be challenged and grow. Find your niche. Ask upperclassmen for advice and help. Benefit from their knowledge and experience, they will share with you and help you. You’re all there to learn. Remember not to take on the whole world and become overwhelmed. Take time for yourself. Get involved in your school –sports, clubs, activities –and surround yourself with positive people. If you have to take an extra semester, take it. You will be better for it. The future is in your hands, but never forget your roots and where you came from. Remember the people who got you here probably sacrificed for you.

John Barrios –

I was born and raised in Pico Rivera to a single mom, in a low-income Mexican American family. And now I’m a Yale graduate. But I wanted to share with you what happened on my first day. I got to Yale and went to the big gate, took three steps in and…froze. My first thought was what if this is all a mistake? I didn’t believe that I belonged. I stood there for a couple of hours before I could go register with just minutes to spare. The most important thing you need to know is that you are there for a couple of reasons. First, because you are worthy and also they chose you out of so many applicants. Colleges accept students because they want to look good in the future. They are bettering that 10-20 years in the future, you’re going to succeed and when you are introduced, they will always say your college’s name. Every time I get introduced, it’s John Barrios, Yale Graduate and they like that. The most dangerous thing that could happen to you is self-doubt. Don’t let this happen. You’re probably going to have some academic surprises. I was a pretty good student in high school, so when I got a 10-page writing assignment, I worked on it and was very surprised to get a C minus. My first thought was I’m not as good a writer as I thought I was, but I read through the paper and read the comments and realized that I had a lot to learn. Paying for classes changes your perspective. Just keep that thought in mind. In your classes, look at who’s asking the questions and be like them. Don’t be afraid. Introduce yourself to professors and ask questions. You need a community to lift you back up and your classmates can do that. Go to networking events and take care of your mental health. And when you are thinking about internships or jobs and you have a dream company in mind, reach out to them. Don’t be afraid to ask. And always, always follow up.

Jacki’s College Send-off Message

It was so great to see so many of our college freshmen and their parents at the Summer College Send-off Luncheon, seeing all the kids come together and meet people who are going to the same college or maybe some students who are already there. It’s important that all our kids get together and celebrate the journey. It’s time to enjoy yourselves and get a pat on the back.

A huge thank you to Justin Uribe and John Barrios, who put the college experience into perspective. It was amazing to have two of our very own El Rancho students share their first-hand college reality.

Gilbert spoke about the importance of time management for college students and how in the beginning, it may seem like they have more free time than they actually do. He emphasized keeping up with online curriculum as well as classroom assignments and that making friends with upperclassmen would benefit them. And while studying, using the library and other resources is critical, he reminded them not to forget to schedule some fun into the mix for their own well-being.

I had the opportunity to share three tips with everyone there and I’d like to share them here not only for those who may have missed the luncheon, but also because they apply to college students everywhere.

1. Get involved! You need to be a part of your college community. There are so many opportunities on campus to learn about new subjects or discover new interests and evolve. You might be shy, but college gives you a chance to change. Parents, please understand that students need to be at school, that it’s not just about books and classes and studying. You’ll find that it’s about becoming what or who you are.

2. Get to know your professors. They are there to teach you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Show up during office hours more than once, show an interest in the subject and let them see you are trying. These are the people that you might need to write you a letter of reference, or those you want to think of you when they have a research project that comes up down the line. A good relationship with your professors will go a long way.

3. Call your Mom and Dad. Your parents may not know what’s going on and want to be part of your experience. Keep in mind that your family is going through some dynamic changes and this will take some getting used to, but they are on the journey with you. Your parents are your biggest advocates and will lift you up when you need it the most.

There is one more thing I’d like to impress upon you, now that you’re venturing off to college campuses. Be smart. Let everyone know where you are going when you go out and when you expect to be back. Remember no is no and don’t put yourself in a position to be misunderstood.