First-Gen Profiles

First-Gen Alumni: Amy Pei Ling Hong (Merrill College 1999)

My two older brothers and I were born and raised in San Francisco to parents who immigrated from Hong Kong.  My parents are high school graduates who learned of the American grading system when we entered public school.  My parents knew they were limited in how much they could help us in our studies, so they were more concerned with us passing with “C”s than

First-Gen Faculty: Gina Langhout, Provost of Oakes College, Professor of Psychology, and Alumni (transfer student, Kresge, '94)

I was born in Hawaiian Gardens, CA (near Long Beach), and grew up in  Modesto, CA. Three of my four grandparents did not complete high school due to family obligations (e.g., helping to raise siblings). My parents are both high school graduates. My dad is a mechanic and worked 10 hour days, standing in an open garage, for most of my life.

Jason Burns [Photo credit: Gwynn Benner] First-Gen Staff: Jason Burns, Administrative Special Assistant, Campus Counsel I was born and raised in San Diego California. I grew up in South East San Diego, in a socio-economically poor neighborhood. My family was poor relied on welfare and Section 8 housing for a good portion of my childhood. Life was always a struggle but my mom did her best to shield us from the daily stresses she endured to keep the lights on and food on the table. It was this upbringing which lead me in my desire to learn and view an education as a way out of my situation.
First-Gen Alumni: Deborah Tracy-Proulx (Porter '90)

My father was in the U.S. Navy and so I moved around quite a lot throughout my childhood until high school. My mother had studied and worked for a short time as a dental hygienist before becoming a stay at home parent.

First-Gen Alumni: George Zhong

I grew up in China, and moved to California when I was a teenager. My parents both went to a vocational school in China, and I’m the first in my family to have graduated from a four-year university.

Dr. L. Esthela Bañuelos [Photo credit: Gwynn Benner] First-Gen Staff: Dr. L. Esthela Bañuelos, Academic Senate Analyst

I was born and raised in a working class neighborhood in Southeast Los Angeles, a daughter of immigrants who courageously came to an entirely new country seeking a better life.  My route to higher education began at community college. 

Delio Vasquez, Graduate Student in History of Consciousness [Photo credit: S.bop Productions] First-Gen Graduate Student: Delio Vasquez, History of Consciousness

I was born and raised poor in the Bronx, the first son of Dominican immigrants. My mother, raised in a rural community, was not allowed to study past 8th grade because of her gender. We are a Spanglish-speaking family and I consider myself fortunate to have grown up in the most ethnically diverse community in the country.

Campus Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor First-Gen: Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor, Marlene Tromp

My father was a mechanic in a soda ash plant, a trona mine, and a power plant.  My mother was an old school ("one-ringy-dingy") telephone operator whose health eventually forced her into early retirement.  My Dad was brilliant, but was unable to complete a degree with the financial demands faced by a working-class person.  Our parents both encouraged us

Chancellor George Blumenthal First-Gen: Chancellor George Blumenthal

As a first-generation undergraduate student, when in high school, I didn’t even know it was possible to get a scholarship to college without playing football. I lived at home, went to college, and continuously worked at least 20 hours per week, first in a store, then in the public library system, and finally as an undergraduate researcher at the university.

Andrea Vazquez, Graduate Student in the Department of Education First-Gen Graduate Student: Andrea Vazquez, Department of Education and Chicano/Latino Resource Center (El Centro)

I’m a native to South Central Los Angeles, and the eldest of two daughters born to a Mexican father and Afro Latina mother from Ecuador. My father’s education ended in the fifth grade and my mother migrated to the United States before being able to pursue a college degree in her own country.

Ibette Valle, Graduate Student in Social Psychology [Photo credit: Rebecca Covarrubias] First-Gen Graduate Student: Ibette Valle, Social Psychology

Out of four children, I was the first to be born in America and to graduate from high school. My parents grew up in neighboring villages of rural Mexico with no electricity or public health facilities. Despite yearning for more knowledge, my father, the wisest man I know, left primary school to support his mother and sisters.

Angela Rossi-Steele [Photo credit: Tristan Carkeet] First-Gen Staff: Angela Rossi-Steele, ITS (former Chair, Staff Advisory Board)

I grew up in the east bay town of Antioch, CA where we moved to when I was six years old. At the time, it was considered an up and coming bedroom community with good public schools. My parents were working class first and second generation Americans whose highest level of education was finishing high school. My mother spent most of her working career as a baker.

Dr. Teresa Maria Linda Scholz [Photo credit: Gwynn Benner] First-Gen Staff: Dr. Teresa Maria Linda Scholz, Campus Diversity Officer

I am a first generation USAmerican—my parents immigrated to Los Angeles from Guatemala. My siblings and I were born here in the US. We grew up in L.A. (Huntington Park) and in the Bay Area.

Dr. James Doucet-Battle [Photo credit: Gwynn Benner] First-Gen Faculty: Dr. James Doucet-Battle, Assistant Professor, Sociology Department

Dr. James Doucet-Battle was born and raised in Rochester, New York. His father worked for the Air Force and his mother was employed at Eastman Kodak. 

Dr. Juan Poblete [Photo credit: Carolyn Lagattuta] First-Gen Faculty: Dr. Juan Poblete, Literature Professor Dr. Juan Poblete was born in Santiago, Chile, one of five siblings. His father was a popular singer, whose Frank Sinatra-like crooner style made him popular in the 1950s. Juan’s father also co-led a popular Chilean radio show in the 1960’s.
Dr. Veronica Terriquez [Photo credit: Carolyn Lagattuta] First-Gen Faculty: Dr. Veronica Terriquez, Associate Professor, Sociology Department Dr. Veronica Terriquez was born in the San Gabriel Valley in eastern Los Angeles County. The daughter of working-class immigrants, Veronica discovered early on her acumen and affinity for academic pursuits.
Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias [Photo credit: Carolyn Lagattuta] First-Gen Faculty: Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias, Assistant Professor, Psychology Department One of four children, Dr. Rebecca Covarrubias grew up in a predominately low-income, Mexican neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona. Born to two hard-working parents — her father, Jose Luis, an elementary school bus driver and janitor and her mother, Rosario, the backbone of the family — she learned the values of collaboration, hard work, and humility.
Dr. Catherine "Cat" Ramírez [Photo credit: Carolyn Lagattuta] First-Gen Faculty: Dr. Catherine “Cat” Ramírez, Associate Professor, Latin American & Latino Studies, and Director, Chicano Latino Research Center Dr. Catherine "Cat" Ramírez’s father graduated from high school in East Los Angeles and, after serving in the U.S. military during World War II, got a job working for Caltrans. Her mother, an immigrant from Mexico, was a homemaker who had to leave school as a girl to support her siblings after their mother died.
Dr. Jaye Padgett [Photo credit: Carolyn Lagattuta] First-Gen Faculty: Dr. Jaye Padgett, Professor, Linguistics Department, and Interim Vice Provost for Student Success His father never graduated high school and procured work as a printer and later a chauffeur. His mother earned her diploma, but instead of continuing on to college got work as an administrative assistant. “Really, I was the only person in my family to have a college experience,” Jaye said. When he did arrive for his freshman year at the University of Maryland he felt keenly that he was out of place.