Mauricio Paz Cisneros '22

Mauricio Paz CisnerosMajors: Biology and Spanish

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

Being the first in my family to go to college is something that I am very proud of, but I would say it was really scary to think of at first. The reason for that is because I did not know what to expect and I knew no one before coming to school. In addition, I did not know of all of the resources the university had to offer and how different it was going to be from high school. I am the first to go to college from not only my immediate family, but also my extended family, so not having any of this knowledge was difficult. However, the more I thought about it, the more I become proud to be the one to set the example for my siblings, my cousins, my cousins’ children, etc. I have the privilege to be the first to acquire all of this first-hand experience to pass on to the younger ones in my family to ease the worry about going to college. I attribute most, if not all, of my success to the support my mom gave me with the work ethic both of my parents instilled in me. From the age of 12 I was working with my dad out in a vineyard during the summers to avoid paying for a babysitter because it was an extra expense that we could not afford at the time. In addition, I began to help my dad with his side job every afternoon after his primary job. This side job was landscaping, and we usually worked on a different house every weekday, including Saturday and with the exception of Sunday (usually). It was hard work and I did not enjoy it because I kept asking why I had to work if I was just a kid. However, if I could go back, I would not change growing up like this because it made me have the work ethic I have today. I have done the same jobs over every summer since then because I believe it really makes me appreciate the opportunity I have to go to school and get an education. My mom did not want me to work like this for the rest of my life, so she also encouraged me and siblings to do well in school to have a better job than they did. She would put our needs above hers, regardless if that meant no having enough money to spend on herself.

What does it mean for your personally to be a part of the FGEN community and, specifically, to be a FGEN student ambassador?

Being part of the FGEN community for me means that I can be a resource to other students at UP, as well as extend my own network with other students. I know how intimidating it is to come to college and not have no prior knowledge of what it is like nor what to expect. It means a lot to me to be an ambassador because I get to be a part of a team that plans events to expand this community and to let new students know that we are here to help them with any questions they have over anything. There is a fulfilling feeling I get when I know that I helped someone ease the worry of a new transition and I wish to make everyone at UP feel comfortable.

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

My biggest advice to FGEN students that are facing challenges to is to reach out for help. I know that it may be out of our comfort zone to reach to someone for help, but we do no have to face our challenges alone. I know I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for all of the people that helped me with my challenges.

Did a mentor play a role in your experience?

I would say that the one of the people who has had the biggest impact in my college experience has been my former mentor Jacquelyn M. because she helped me navigate through the process of switching majors. At the beginning of fall semester my first year I was a nursing major, but after some deep thought mid semester, I decided to switch over to biology. However, I did not know how to do this, and I talked to her about it and she actually walked me over to the SARC to get me started on the process. She was also available to answer any of the questions that I had, and I really felt bad because I think I was getting annoying, yet she graciously helped me whenever I had a question.

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

I would say the tutors and academic coaches on campus are a great resource that are not taken advantage of as much as they should. In the past I have gone to get some help on a presentation for a class and the guy that helped me was phenomenal! He gave me a lot of tips on how to present my ideas and improve my speech, so that I don’t stutter as much as I do.

Anything else you would like to add?

I want to say that the Moreau Center for Service and Justice and St. Mary’s have a lot of activities that one can participate in that many people do not know of. For example, the immersions program on campus is a great way to connect with a group of people through a shared exposure experience, so to speak.