A Support System to Uplift My Educational Journey

As a first-generation Mexican-American college student, pursuing higher education was something I once thought was impossible. It wasn’t until my first year in community college that I realized just how badly the K-12 public school system had failed to prepare me for a college education. Not only did I lack the fundamental reading and writing skills but also the social and cultural capital necessary to navigate the system of higher education. During my first year at Santa Monica College, I quickly realized how challenging it was for me to balance family and academic responsibilities. Living in a single-parent household, my mother relied on my financial support to make ends meet. I was pressured to work long hours and find additional time to dedicate to studying. Balancing family and educational commitments became too stressful and eventually impacted my academic performance. Understanding the repercussions of this, I knew it was essential for me to find a support system on campus who could help me navigate the system of higher education and improve my academic performance.

Despite the challenges that confronted me, I took the initiative to reach out to my former English professor, who has been instrumental in my academic and professional career, for guidance and academic support. After my first meeting with him, I began to recognize my potential and ability to enhance my reading and writing skills while becoming critical of my educational goals. This profound transformation allowed me to regain the confidence I needed to pursue and accomplish my educational goals.

Upon graduating from Santa Monica College, I transferred to the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science and education sciences. With newfound confidence, I have also joined several programs on campus such as the UC Irvine Pre-Law Outreach Program. Furthermore, I worked for the Early Academic Outreach Program as a Student Coordinator. In this capacity, I provide academic support to underserved high school students by assisting them with college planning, enrollment for the SAT/ACT exam, and the University of California and California State University admissions process.

Reflecting on my educational journey, from community college to UC Irvine, I can appreciate how it has shaped the resilient and persistent person that I am today. I have accomplished many incredible things that have enriched my college experience and influenced my educational and professional aspirations.

Walter Ramirez is a senior at the University of California, Irvine and a summer 2018 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The content of these posts reflects the opinions of individuals who wrote it and is not an endorsement or statement from the U.S. Department of Education.

My Dream

I dream about the day where my mom doesn’t have to wake up at four in the morning to work under the scorching heat for hours on end. I come from a farmworking family and began working in the fields at the age of twelve in Idaho. My first memory is walking into an orchard of cherry trees. Growing up, I remember telling myself that, “I don’t want to work here my whole life. And I don’t want my parents too, either.” My family is the reason why I decided to be five and a half hours away to pursue my postsecondary education. As I look back after finishing my first year in college, I am more committed to continuing to pursue my goal of obtaining my bachelor’s degree for my family.

This in part to being part of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). That is where I found my home away from home. I soon began to call the rest of my peers, CAMP brothers and CAMP sisters. CAMP is where I go with any questions about college.

Through CAMP, I participated in Farmworker Awareness Week. The fourth week of March is Farmworker Awareness Week on college campuses. This week is used to bring awareness to issues that farmworkers face like exploitation and harassment. This is a week I hold dear because I am passionate about farmworker justice. This week reminded me of the days I worked de-tasseling corn. Fortunately, my mom, my sister and I did not faced harassment in the fields. On our campus, we had the Bandana Project where we wrote facts about women in the fields. We displayed these at Voces Del Campo (Voices from the Fields), an event where we shared our own farmworking story. I had the privilege to read an anonymous story and heard many of my CAMP siblings share their accounts. This event made me realize the importance of sharing one’s own stories to bring awareness to certain issues. I found myself being grateful for having peers that share a similar background like mine, which is coming from a low-income farmworking family.

Volunteering for several events that week made me think about my career goals. Once I get certified to be a teacher, I want to stay in Idaho and teach in a community with a high Hispanic population. I want to be able to educate students about the issues facing our communities and share resources to assist them.

The University of Idaho’s CAMP program has been the place where I have learned about myself. Thankfully, I have found my support system, made friends, and have peers that share similar backgrounds. I have an amazing family that has been supportive since day one, and they are the reason I will continue to reach for my goals. Hopefully one day, I will be able to give my parents at least twice as much for what they have given and done for me and achieve my dream of helping my family no longer work in the fields.

Julia Santiago is a sophomore at the University of Idaho and a summer 2019 intern at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The content of these posts reflects the opinions of individuals who wrote it and is not an endorsement or statement from the U.S. Department of Education.

Constructing Your Own Story

My dad has been beef cattle ranching for 13 years, and every summer, since the beginning of my freshman year of high school, I worked alongside him. Cattle farming seemed like what he was destined to do, and although the work was strenuous, my dad loved it. However, from my first summer working there, I realized it was not what I loved. I spent almost every day thinking about what else I could do, how I could utilize my intellectual knowledge that I was learning in school, and how to elevate myself and my family. Nevertheless, due to financial situations, I continued to work alongside my father for four summers. Yet, the most difficult part came when I spoke with him and told him I wanted to do something that no one in our family had done. I wanted to go to college.

Coming from a rural area, the college process was challenging. I found myself relying on myself for guidance, due to no one else being familiar with the college process. At times, my own parents doubted my ability to enter the college of my dreams. Nevertheless, I did it. I was  accepted into the college of my dreams: Dartmouth College. Upon arriving at college, a rush of guilt overtook me. I felt guilty for liking Dartmouth better than home, for wanting to stay here and explore everything about Dartmouth. I felt guilty for leaving behind my family and being excited for and enjoying the opportunities that college had to offer.

I continued to feel that guilt until I spoke with a professor. I asked my Spanish professor to chat over coffee one day. To this day, I still recall the words that lifted the guilt and pressure from me. She stated, “Juan you shouldn’t feel guilty for liking it here, and you most definitely should not feel pressure to take care of your parents.” She went on to tell me that my family was fine. They had established their life way before I came to college. Leaving for college was not disrupting our family structure. She was right. My parents were, in fact, ok. My dad, although still working hard, was doing well at his job, and my mom and siblings were ok. It wasn’t until that moment that I was able to contextualize where I was and how proud my parents were of me.

It is immensely difficult for first-generation students to realize the positive impact that we are doing for our family. The majority of us have been raised in households that discourage showing any form of individual recognition for our efforts. Therefore, it is difficult for us to disconnect ourselves from our family. Yet, during that conversation, I realized that this is my story. That my parents’ struggles, successes, and lives are not mine. I have my own, and I must focus on it. Yes, my goal is to one day aid my family financially, but I can’t do that if I continue to live under the very pressures that I put upon myself. Since I recognized this, I have felt more at ease with myself and college. Thanks to the advice of my Spanish professor, I was able to remove the feeling of being guilty for enjoying college. Furthermore, thanks to this uplift of guilt, I was able to excel and win the William S. Churchill award which recognizes one freshman male for academic achievement, leadership, community service, and who represents Dartmouth in all aspects.

I grew up working the same job as my dad. I helped my mom in household chores and in taking care of my siblings. My life was routine until I entered college. Once I entered college, I had to learn to become independent in many aspects. Additionally, I had to learn to remove feelings of guilt and pressure. It wasn’t until I did so that I started to live and excel. It’s important to recognize that although we can be grateful for our parents and for everything they have done for us, our parents’ stories are not ours. They helped mold us into the people we are today, but it’s up to us to define ourselves and tell our own story.

Juan Quinonez Zepeda is a senior at Dartmouth College and a summer 2019 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The content of this post reflects the opinions of the individual who wrote it and is not an endorsement or statement from the U.S. Department of Education.

Finding My Destination

If the hastily written handwriting on my writing tutor job application could tell the truth, it would admit that I was applying for the position only because I needed a reason to believe that my efforts would lead to a purpose. During this time, I felt as though I was running miles toward nowhere: I was a third-year community college student who had recently switched her major from political science to English, and who was looking for a little bit more income to survive. However, I was trying to put in all my effort into my work to make up for my confusion.

I was developing new career goals, I was expanding my skillset, and overall, I was using every ounce of my hard work to be successful. Yet, I was no longer convinced that my effort was going to lead me anywhere. I was lost and frustrated, but I knew that wherever I was, I was too far to give up. Additionally, I knew that I loved literature and writing, so I was convinced that working at the writing center at the community college I attended would help me find my purpose. I eventually found that purpose among all the Latinx students I tutored.

Working as a tutor made me realize that within the Latinx community, there seems to be this group mentality that we have to prove ourselves. Whether I was tutoring a Latinx student who was in the honors program or a Latinx student who did not want to admit that he did not know what a thesis statement was, most Latinx students wanted to prove that they could be successful. They may not have realized it, but they wore their diligence on their very faces. I knew the stories of their all-nighters, of their full-time jobs and responsibilities to their families, and even their desire to go back to school for the “better life” they believed in. The one thing they lacked was a reason to believe in themselves. Seeing how determined they were, I decided that it was my responsibility to help them.

My job became more than just helping my students understand thesis statements or showing their grammatical errors. Before I knew it, I felt as though I had taken on the responsibility of helping Latinx students prove that they were capable: capable of learning, capable of reflecting their intelligence in their essays, and above all, capable of seeing positive results in their hard work.

Admittedly, I still doubted whether or not I was doing enough to help them until one random tutoring session in May 2018 that a Latinx student casually told me, “Thank you so much, I feel better about this now”, that I suddenly felt that I found more than just confirmation about my tutoring skills. That very statement made me realize where I was at that very moment. I was in a tutoring cubicle with a Latinx student who told me that I helped her believe in herself. at that moment, I felt that I could move forward with a sense of direction, that direction to me was to follow the path that would lead me to become an English professor who can use her knowledge to help Latinx students.

To this day, I continue to make the most of my teaching abilities because I want to help Latinos on the education level. I now work as a writing tutor at Orange Coast College while attending the University of California, Irvine. While I still sometimes feel my efforts are not enough or as strong as they should be, my experience helping Latinx students find their voice is enough to push me and make me believe that I can help others. I no longer run toward nowhere, but instead I have a destination.

Emily Aguilar is a senior at the University of California, Irvine and she was a summer 2019 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The content of this post reflects the opinions of the individual who wrote it and is not an endorsement or statement from the U.S. Department of Education.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Finding Your First-Generation Community

Growing up within the five-mile radius of Inglewood, CA, a city southwest of Los Angeles, I had never traveled outside of the west coast. When the time came to make a decision on which college to attend, I decided to attend Wellesley College, a small, historically all-women, liberal arts school near Boston, MA. With only two suitcases, a pillow and a backpack, I moved across the country, leaving behind my parents, my two sisters, my friends and Inglewood. This was mi comunidad, my community; the one that had raised me and the only one I had ever known. At the time, I was the only one amongst my friends to move to the northeast. I would be moving to Wellesley without my community.

When I arrived at Wellesley College, I felt lost and overwhelmed. When I heard the conversations of other students who seemed more prepared than I was, I felt out of place. While attending my classes that semester, I was shy to participate in class. While my peers were eager to raise their hands and contribute to the class discussion, I thought that my contributions were not good enough. After my first semester, I was almost certain that Wellesley College had made a mistake in my admittance. It seemed as if my peers were better equipped, better prepared, and overall more knowledgeable than I was. I thought to myself, how was I even considered for admission to this institution? I began to feel that one day my professors and peers would soon find out that I did not belong here. That my placement in this institution was a miscalculation by an admissions officer. I began to feel imposter’s syndrome.

During those trying times, I had to remind myself of all the hard work I had already done to be here and who I was doing this for. I began to surround myself with people who strengthened me. That year, I was grateful to meet many other first-generation students like myself through Wellesley’s First-Generation Network. Through the network, I met not only first-generation students but also first-generation professors and faculty.

Slowly, I began to see myself reflected in this institution and began to find my own community at Wellesley College. The Network gave me a community of fellow first-generation peers and faculty that believed in my intellectual and personal capability to succeed at Wellesley. My peers and I frequently got together to support one another during difficult times, while my first-generation professors worked with me during office hours to ensure I felt confident to raise my hand in class. Most importantly, my dean, who is also a part of the Network, made sure that I was pointed to the right resources on my campus, such as the Stone Center for counseling, or the Pforzheimer Learning Teaching Center for writing tutoring.

Together, my first-generation community taught me that I must not let doubt and fear limit my courage to go after new opportunities, nor should I allow it to discourage me from putting myself out there in meaningful ways. Finding my first-generation community at Wellesley College empowered me to continue persevering and persisting for my education.

For students who are in my position, we must remember this: We are here for a reason. We are worthy and we belong. We are smarter and more knowledgeable than we think we are. We must remember to surround ourselves with people who will remind us of this and remind ourselves as often as we need to. We also need to remind ourselves that we are not alone and that there is a community ready to support.

Paola Gonzalez is a senior at Wellesley College and was summer 2019 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics

My Dedication

With about 33,000 residents, Dalton, Georgia’s claim to fame is carpet. The workforce for this industry is primarily supplied by recent immigrant Latino workers. As a result, almost 50% of the city is Hispanic. In my high school, nearly 70% identify as Hispanic. However, when considering college readiness, this wasn’t reflected. As a student, I noticed which of my peers were ultimately going—or not—to college. This firsthand exposure to educational inequities set off my lifelong passion to advance the college access, retention, and persistence of historically underrepresented students, and in turn, informed by decision to pursue a masters of higher education.

When I applied to be a Gates Millennium Scholar as a high school senior, a recurring theme in my essays was that I was seeking to go to college to help others go to college, particularly students of underserved backgrounds. In one my Gates essays, there was one particular paragraph that reaffirmed my decision to pursue graduate study and a career in higher education:

I would want to do my part in helping students, with special emphasis on minorities, realize that going to college is possible…I want to help get rid of the misconception amongst students, those minorities and rising first-generation college students, that they can’t go to college because of cost or because a higher education is not for them. I would work on policies to better the resource distribution to students in the area regarding graduating, college, and scholarships.

Early on, my interests were in higher education equity. As a first-generation college, low-income, child of immigrants, and Latina student, I faced many challenges and obstacles when navigating the college-going process. I visited college campuses on my own. I filled out the FAFSA form on my own. I paid the housing deposit on my own. When your parents have an elementary education, don’t speak English, and don’t understand the American educational system, you’re left to do all this alone. While I am resourceful and eventually successfully navigated this process, it was hard, confusing, and lonely.

However, the challenges faced by students like me don’t just end with matriculation. Remaining on a college campus and persisting through graduation is a different story. Despite my academic successes, I still battled with the stereotype threat and imposter syndrome that many students of color experience while at predominantly white institutions (PWI). Given that the faculty, staff, and students didn’t look like me, it was easy to feel like I didn’t belong or shouldn’t be at my school. The feelings of alienation, inadequacy, and inferiority quickly set in. The daily microaggressions of other students and college personnel slowly perpetuate an unwelcoming environment for students of diverse backgrounds. During these times, I knew that to make this easier for students like myself in the future, there needed to be students of underrepresented backgrounds staying, graduating, and then ultimately working on college campuses. Like many other areas of American society, more representation of various demographic backgrounds is needed in higher education at the institutional, state, and federal levels. Only then can higher education professionals and those creating policies make informed decisions and affect changes against systems and policies that were historically not made for students like me.

By growing as a scholar through my master’s program, I hope to leverage my academic and professional experiences as a stepping stone to a life-long career in education equity at the postsecondary level. Ultimately, after my masters, I seek to pursue a doctorate degree related to educational leadership and policy. In the long run, I see myself working in the public sector and influencing policies that affect systems for the advancement of college access and practices that promote an increase in people of color with degrees. At the end of the day, per one of my Gates Millennium Scholarship essays:

Whether by getting a political office…to affect policies or…on a board of education, all my goals, in everything I do, I will work to help students go to college. That is what I want to dedicate my life to.

Monica Maldonado is a graduate student at the University of Maryland, College Park. She was a spring 2019 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Being the Help in my Community

Growing up on the south side of Chicago wasn’t easy. I grew up watching as many of my community members fell into the wrong steps early on in life. Some students within my community weren’t the easiest to deal with, often written off as “bad kids.” I witnessed this from an early age and asked myself, “Why isn’t anyone helping them?”

When I started high school, I had to travel about 20 minutes south of where I lived because I wasn’t accepted into the high school of my choice. Luckily, the school I attended was equipped with some of the most dedicated, hard-working instructors I ever met. My instructors dedicated time before and after school to aid students who needed extra help. I was assured that if I needed to meet with my instructors, I would never be turned away. It was common for staff members to lead extra-curricular activities. They all knew their students and expressed genuine interest in their students’ success and discipline. They exemplified patience and empathy for students whose circumstances were far beyond what anyone could imagine. Their level of care for their students’ education transformed me as an individual and as a student.

These life-changing experiences motivated me to serve communities like mine. Being a first-generation college student from a low-income community can be terrifying. It’s not uncommon for us to feel alone at times because of the lack of support within our communities and even from our households. Academically, it can feel like we’re barely catching up to students who had the privilege of a head start. This has informed where I work and how I serve.

Throughout college I’ve been employed through City Colleges of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. I’ve been able to work with students like me, oftentimes first-generation and low-income. One of the most positive experiences within education has been working with GEAR UP, a grant-based program that increases the academic performance and preparation of students in secondary and post-secondary education. Our mission is to help students all over Chicago succeed through high school and to aid them through the college process, along with mentoring them through their first year of college. As a team, we increase our community’s awareness of post-secondary education by aiding students through the financial aid process, researching scholarships opportunities, connecting students with organizations on campus, and hosting academic workshops. It has been heartwarming to support my city’s youth through their journey to college.

Because of the great support and experiences I had in high school, I want to educate, reform, and advocate for communities like mine–communities that are often overlooked and misunderstood. We are marginalized from other communities due to our crime rates and delinquency. This creates a cycle of hurt, violence, and indifference within our communities. Therefore, as a future educator, it is my goal to give a voice to communities who oftentimes don’t. I will take the time to get to know my students and foster parent involvement. In order to have a community flourish, students and families must feel supported. I have seen my own high school community thrive, and I will fight to do the same within the Chicago Public Schools system.

Lourdes Bustos is a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a 2018-2019 virtual intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Mentorship is the Greater Success

As the son of an immigrant, success was never handed to me. My mother once told me, “If you have the opportunity to be successful, take the chance.” My mother has not been afforded the same opportunities as myself. However, she has given me the greatest gifts of leadership, integrity, and ambition. My mother’s drive inspires me to never to give up and to achieve my goals. As a result, I am able to attend Santa Clara University fully funded to the completion of my Ph.D. through the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program. My humble beginnings have allowed me to value education as the only way someone like me can “make it.” However, my road to success didn’t happen alone.

Mentorship is the key to my success. My journey began through Verbum Dei High School’s Adopt-A-Student Program where donors and mentors reach out to the students and assist them financially but, most importantly, with mentorship. My mentor helped me gain confidence in public speaking, communications, and educational success. As a result, since my senior year of high school, I have mentored the incoming freshman class as they journey through their senior year.

In addition to my opportunity as a GMS, I also became a Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) Scholar. Through HSF, I attended the 2018 inaugural Youth Leadership Summit (YLS) as a summit counselor and mentor for low-income and first-generation high school seniors. The YLS educates high school students on scholarships, college application process, financial literacy, and much more. Many of my mentees clearly felt a sense of relief by having someone they can identify with and learning about all the resources available to them. Students who come from minority backgrounds need to see themselves reflected in professional settings. It is vital to highlight minority individuals who are accomplishing significant milestones. If minority students have mentors in their preferred career, they can then connect and find a similar path. As a low-income and first-generation student, I did not have the resources or contacts on my own to achieve success but having mentors and programs like HSF and GMS make a difference.

Mentorship gives me a new perspective on how to tackle certain obstacles and turn them into victories. Understanding the value of mentorship, I decided on attending a smaller institution. With smaller class sizes, I can more easily build relationships with professors who understand my potential and can connect me with people in my field. Through my experiences, I’ve learned that professors want to help students, but sometimes those of us from minority backgrounds may be less willing, if not scared, to ask for help. However, we should not be hesitant to ask questions. Asking for help makes our success story that much more impactful, and after all, success doesn’t happen alone.

Jonathan Herrera is a student at Santa Clara University and was a Fall 2018 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The Challenge of College

For me, I knew that every part of the K-12 educational journey was meant to prepare me to get accepted into a great college. The application process was challenging and competitive, yet I managed to be accepted to a great state school. However, what happened after I got in was a foreign concept to me, and I was unaware of what was to come. So much focus had been placed on getting into college, but no one ever told me how to succeed once there. For instance, my freshman classes averaged two hundred students and were filled with classmates who had graduated at the top of their class from prestigious high schools. The thought of raising my hand and asking for help while hundreds of pairs of eyes stared at me was horrifying. Therefore, I attempted to do it on my own and pretended that I knew what was happening in class.

The reality was that I could not keep up with the material, especially in my biological calculus course. The class was more advanced than what I had learned in high school, and I did not have strong studying and organizational habits. As hard as I tried, I scored poorly on my exams, and my confidence started to break down. I felt alone as I watched my classmates earn higher grades and answer questions without hesitation. I felt like I could not tell my parents because they had so much to worry about back home and were already having a hard time with me being away. If I dropped the class, then I would no longer be a full-time student. This meant that I would lose some of my financial aid, which I could not afford to do. The idea of failing this class continued to cross my mind, and it dawned on me what a failure I was. I couldn’t help but think of my family members, teachers and scholarship donors who had believed in me. I am not sure whether it was fear, pride or a bit of both that led me to remain silent and not ask for help.

I was home over winter break when I received my grade, and I couldn’t keep this away from my parents any longer. I had earned a D in biological calculus. I thought that they would be disappointed. I worried that they would feel as if all the sacrifices they had made for my future would go down the drain because of this mark on my transcript. However, my mom’s reaction could not have been more graceful and understanding. Instead, she wiped away my tears and asked about my struggles through the class.

I had allowed for my struggles to eat me up inside for so long. However, I came to realize that this one grade did not have to define me, my parents’ sacrifices, or the community I represent. I did not need to burden myself with thoughts of being a disappointment or another hopeless statistic. What would truly define this moment in my college career would be my next steps. That winter break I searched through all the resources on my school’s website, re-read my new student handbook, and found ways to improve my time management and study habits. I began the semester by meeting with my advisor and older college friends, making appointments at the academic success center, and attending the tutoring sessions. I learned the importance of shining light on my weaknesses and advocating for myself.

Each university has a wide variety of resources, whether you are struggling with academics, living situations, mental health, or finances. There are people who can offer guidance and support. However, no one can help you if you don’t admit that you need it and ask for it. Since then, my GPA has improved each semester, and I am not afraid to raise my hand in class when I am lost. I have encouraged younger students to self-advocate. I remind them that hardships will come, but they can decide how they respond. Most importantly, I have continued to rely on the unconditional love and support from my parents by sharing all parts of my college experience, even the most challenging ones.

Valentina Tovar is a graduate of Texas A&M University and a Summer 2018 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

Discovering a Personal Journey

I was born and raised in a small town in the central valley of California. With an opportunity to attend the University of California, Merced (UC Merced), I faced one of the most challenging question of applying to colleges, what is your intended major? Even with my previous experience in classes, community service and music, it was still unclear to me which major would best fit my future career goals. I was interested in working with people and supporting youth in communities, but these elements fit within a multitude of disciplines. I decided that it was best for me to take some time to try out different classes and see what I was passionate about; therefore, I enrolled at UC Merced as an undeclared student.

As a first-generation Chicana and daughter of immigrants, I often felt the pressure to have a clear path for my major and career field. With the support of my family, mentors and scholarship organizations, I did not want to waste any time or disappoint the many who supported my educational journey. During my time as an undeclared student, I was proactive in the search for a major by meeting with career advisors, going to conferences, attending workshops and speaking with people in the different fields. I connected with three mentors from the career and transition support departments and made it a priority to speak with them at least two times every semester. Despite this, every class registration period, I worried that the courses I signed up for would not fulfill degree requirements once I declared a major. Looking back now, every course I took, whether fulfilling my major or not, guided my path to pursue the education field. Above all, my student positions as a peer academic advisor for undeclared students and an orientation leader allowed me to see my passion for helping students and their families navigate the college transition.

Through my college experiences, I was drawn to the study of sociocultural anthropology and changed my major after originally declaring in chemistry. The field of anthropology focuses on the human experience through the human perspective, giving agency to local communities through ethnographies, archaeology, biology and storytelling. Now, as I look forward to my final semester as an anthropology major, I can see how this field of study will guide my ambitions for a career in education and administration.

There are thousands of career options to explore nationally and globally, and one major can lead to countless opportunities in existing fields and new fields that will develop in the coming years. Use the resources at your campus to choose a major that will allow you to study a field of your interest, while also preparing you for your next step in life. As a good mentor once advised me, the decisions you make about your career and education are choices that do not dictate where you will be for the rest of your life, just where your next step will be.

Yaqeline Castro was a Fall 2018 intern with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. She is a graduate of the University of California, Merced.