Lizbeth Leon Beltran (Sociology and Art, College Ten '20)

lizbeth lbI am a low-income first-generation college student. My high school didn't have a lot of resources but because of the influence of passionate and caring teachers, starting from my elementary years, I was able to overcome many of the obstacles of not knowing how to pursue a degree in higher education. They believed in me and in turn I also came to believe it.

What motivated me to go to college: My family has always pushed me to complete my education and attend college for a better future. After seeing so many programs with people dedicated to the success of students I also wanted to attend college and return to my community. I want to learn how systems work in order to change them to create more opportunities and better lives for low-income families.

How my background has helped me: My background has offered a certain lens on social problems. It inspired me to pursue a degree in Sociology and learn to understand how systems create certain situations within the community. My past has also made me very passionate about inequalities of resources, including having access to educational programs and healthy meals.

What would I tell my high-school self about the college experience: The impact of the opportunity is what you make of it. If you want to create relationships with others, which you should for the networks, you should identify programs and organizations you want to be part of. Networks are very important for future opportunities. Take an internship in your first year because it will open opportunities. Take that leap and apply to positions, the worst that can happen is that they say no but you can always use it as an opportunity to obtain feedback.

The best thing so far about my college experience is: I really like being around people who are passionate about what they believe in. In order to study something for several years, you must be passionate about the topic. It' s so great to be able to learn about so many things you weren't even aware of before.

How being a first-generation student has influenced me: It was difficult applying to college because I didn't know what it entailed and what I would need to do. Thankfully there were people who were willing to help me and guide me on the way. Take advantage of opportunities when they become available and don't be afraid to ask for help. It also makes me proud because I'm paving the way for others who will follow me in my family and that inspires me to want to change things for students.