Alexys Bermudez '18

Alexys BermudezMajor: Biology 

What was it like being among the first in your family to go to college?  Tell us about your story, and what you think has helped you succeed so far at UP?

Being the first in my family to attend college was both exciting and nerve wracking. With no family members with prior college experience, I had no idea what to look for when I was deciding which colleges I wanted to apply to, and once I was accepted to some of my choices, I had an even harder time knowing how to decide between my choices and how I would pay for four years of college tuition. Once I chose to attend UP and was on my way to move into my dorm, late August of 2014, my parents and I did not know what to expect of the college campus-- none of us had been to the UP before and had never even been to the state of Oregon.

Despite how nervous I was attending college, it was also an exciting time for my family. Since I was a young child, I was exposed to hospitals and medicine because I grew up with a sister who was born deaf and needed to see a physician from time to time. After this exposure, I became passionate about medicine and knew I wanted to attend college and study biological sciences with the hopes of one day pursuing a career in medicine. Family has always been an important aspect of my life-- I like to consider my family "tightly knit." Knowing what I wanted to do at such a young age, and being so motivated to pursue my goals, my family was proud of my drive and supported me every step of the way.

One of the best things about being the first in my family to attend college was that it made me more self-directed and gave me the drive to seek out opportunity. As a senior in high school, I searched for ways to pay for college tuition and stumbled upon various scholarship agencies. Being self directed in this scholarship search made me feel even more proud of myself when I was awarded those scholarships because I had done the searching, networking and achieved success on my own.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the FGEN community and to be a FGEN Student Ambassador at UP?

Personally, being an FGEN ambassador means being a mentor to first generation college students and aiding them in their transition into college, academically, emotionally and physically. As a FGEN student myself, I wish that someone had taken the time to guide me as a freshmen and point out the resources that I had in front of me. My vision as an FGEN student ambassador is that I am able to serve as a coach and remind FGEN students just how much they are capable of achieving and how amazing it is to lead a legacy and be the first in their family to attend college! I hope to remind them that their perseverance, drive and courage to be the first to take that step toward higher education will set off a cascade and motivate other members of their family to do the same. As an ambassador, I am open to answering any questions that any first generation students may have.

What is your advice to FGEN students at UP who are facing challenges?

My advice is to look forward. As the first in your family to go to the college, you have no defined path ahead of you, you are the individual "paving the road" for others behind you. When things get challenging, be confident in your abilities and your willingness to succeed. Trust yourself and be firm in your decisions. It is also important to rely on your peers and be there for them when they are experiencing challenges. There are many individuals who are a part of the FGEN community who are willing to help you through challenging times and offer guidance whenever you may stray off of your path to success.

Has a mentor played a role in your experience at UP?  How so?

During my time here at UP, there were several mentors who have made a difference in my experience as an FGEN student. As a cadet in the Army ROTC program, I often relied on the cadre (military professors) whenever I had any questions about my career in the Army, or about my future goals in general. As a biology major and a student hoping to attend medical school after graduation, I relied on many of my professors to offer advice on what activities would give me the best experience as a pre-med student, and the best insight into the medical field. However, as an FGEN student who did not have the guidance of another FGEN student who had experienced the same struggles that I had been facing in my first few months of college, I am motivated to serve as a mentor and share my experiences or answer any questions that any FGEN students may have.

What resources have been significant, meaningful, or helpful for you during your UP experience?

Throughout my years here at UP, the resources that have helped me academically are the Shepard Academic Resource Center, the Pre-Med advisor and my academic advisor that was assigned to me by the College of Arts and Sciences. These individuals were always welcoming whenever I had questions about a course I needed to take to fulfill my degree requirements, or about courses that would better prepare me for the career that I had in mind. Being a member of various university clubs, including the Pre-Med Association and the Campus Lions Club have also gotten me involved in activities that support the university, the community, and my career goals.

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