Matt Deschner

Matt DeschnerCurrent Position: Admissions Counselor

Alma Mater: Saint Louis University - Madrid, Spain Campus

Major/Undergraduate field of study: International Business and Spanish

What was it like being among the first in your family to go to college?

Being the first in my family to attend university was overwhelming. I had little guidance and did not have the tools to ask the questions that I now know I needed to be asking during the college search process. While I know I had an amazing experience that allowed me to attend university in Madrid, Spain, I struggled with the financial aid process, the SATs, freshman orientation and the unknown because I did not have any family experiences to rely on. My time management and organization skills helped me succeed. I learned to ask many questions and started working in the admissions and student activities offices that helped me become more invested in higher education while simultaneously developing leadership skills

Are there any unique challenges you faced as a First Generation student?

I did not know what a merit based scholarship was. I did not know how to fill out the FAFSA. I took the SATs three times and my scores stayed the same. I was unable to ask my family for guidance on these issues because this was uncharted territory. Asking questions, perseverance, and hard work are what got me through these unfamiliar times. Making connections on campus with students and faculty, joining clubs, taking on campus jobs, and being open to new experiences contributed to my ability to overcome all the challenges I was facing.

Do you have any advice for FGEN students at UP that are facing challenges?

Ask questions. Always. We are here to help and assist students through their higher education experience. If something is unfamiliar, then it needs to be discussed and addressed.

Did a mentor play a role in your experience? How so?

Yes. I had teachers in high school that looked out for me, supported me, and offered me guidance. Some helped me with my college applications, scholarship applications and encouraged me to study at a place that was the best fit that I could afford.

How do you feel your experience prepared you, both professionally and personally?

Not only did I attend college in Europe, but I became fluent in Spanish, saw many parts of the world and made connections with many different types of people. This wholeheartedly prepared me for a career in admissions at the University of Portland. My undergraduate experience also set the foundation for my Masters in Business Administration (MBA). I love my personal and professional life and attribute ALL of it to attending college.

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