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Erick Berrelleza

 Erick 2

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?

It was hard. Having to go through the entire process alone without being able to ask your parents how to do it was hard. It's been the toughest two years for me but it feels good. It feels good to have made such a drastic transition from a public school in Arizona to a private Catholic school in Oregon. Moving to a completely new state in a city I've never been to until I started summer classes was such a risky move but it's one I don't regret taking. I always knew I wanted to go to college and I always knew I wanted to do so out-of-state so when I got accepted and committed, I knew I had to make my parents proud. They are the reason I'm doing this. I'm doing this because they've risked so much for me. I've gotten through so many obstacles to get to the point I'm at now and I dedicate this success to them. Who would've known? I never imagined being the first person from my family to go to college, it's crazy but it feels good

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

To be a part of the FGEN community to me means to not be alone. This community proves to me every day that I am not alone on this campus, it's filled with such a diverse group of kids that have gone through the same, if not worse struggles than I have. I don't feel alone and I feel like I belong in this community, that sense of unity is why I chose to be a student ambassador. Being an ambassador I get to have a bigger role within this community and now I get to help first-year students and I'll be able to mentor them. Being an ambassador means a lot to me because I know the struggle, I lived it and I don't want another person to have it as bad as I did, I want them to take part in the unity of this community and be comfortable in it.

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

Don't start doubting yourself. You are more thank you think you are. You are smarter than you think you are. You are stronger than you think you are. So remind yourself of that. Think about previous obstacles you've gotten through and ask yourself how this one is different than those? It's not. An obstacle is an obstacle, and you will leap over it like the champion you are. Remind yourself of your worth because you are worth a lot. Don't let anyone or anything tell you differently. Nobody's got you like you got yourself. So get yourself and get yourself through whatever you're going through. You can get through anything and you can accomplish anything but you can only do so if you believe in yourself. So believe in yourself.

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

I've been lucky to have a mentor guiding me since my junior year of high school, she is a history teacher at the high school I attended. She was never my teacher, but she was the kind of teacher that any student can go to talk to and be completely comfortable with. She was there for me all of senior year when I needed someone the most and to this day, a simple text or call from her is what gets me through hard times. She always just knew what to say and she always knew how to motivate me. She reminds me that I am better than I think I am and it's something that I repeatedly need to hear to keep going.

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

Talking to someone, venting, letting it all out. It's not something kids like to do because believe me, I hate talking about my problems to people but it helps. Going into the SARC office and having conversations with Matt Daily have helped me grow because his feedback has been helpful, he's truly helped me through some hard times. Also, getting involved, looking into new opportunities. I don't think I'd be the person that I am today if I hadn't accomplished what I never thought I'd be able to do and that was studying abroad. My dream before coming to college was to study abroad, I made that dream come true my sophomore year so now I'm like what's next? Studying abroad has made me want more, it's made me create new dreams and it's truly made me want to be more and do more.

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