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.