First-Gen Undergraduate: Walter Arevalo (Porter '22, Computer Engineering)

photo of walter arevalo sitting in front of oceanBackground: My name is Walter Arevalo and I am from Santa Clarita, CA. I am the oldest of 2 and the first to go to college in my family. My parents are both from El Salvador and work really hard for my success in Santa Cruz and would do anything to support me in getting my degree.

What motivated you to go to college?: One of my biggest motivations has always been my parents and seeing how hard they work so that I can always come out on top, college just naturally felt like the next step so I could succeed and climb higher in life. Being able to pursue what I enjoy studying as a career has kept me working hard to one day be able to pay my parents back for all of the support they have given me.

What's the biggest challenge you encountered as a first-gen student and how did you overcome it?: One of my biggest challenges has been having to explore college and learn all about how it works. Having to learn about financial aid and among everything else was really new to me and my parents. Not knowing what to expect when I was in high school made the experience more nerve-wracking, however, I was able to overcome this by actively using all of the resources I had in high school and now in college as well.

How has your background helped you?: My background had been a large motivator to continue fighting hard to succeed. Seeing my parents work hard to make sure I can continue going to college motivated me to work harder so that I can reach my dreams and get the degree that I've been working hard for and looking forward to.

What would you tell my first-year self now?: I would tell my first-year self that although college may be hard for the first year and it may seem like classes are bad news after bad news to keep on working hard because hard work and motivation help you succeed and will put you back on track and all of the mistakes you have made in the past just enrich your experiences and help you learn.

What was the best thing about your college experience?: The best thing about college has been everyone I have met so far and how supportive they have been, also working on campus has opened me to a whole new group of people who rally for my success.

How has being a first-gen student influenced you (and/or your work) now?: Being a first-gen student has given me a sense of motivation, knowing that I will be the first in my family to graduate and be the first in my family to climb up in life. I see being a first-gen student as a great thing and I am very proud to be a first-generation student.