Ezequiel Delgado-Cervantes

Ezequiel Delgado-Cervantes

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

It was, in one word, humbling. My parents moved from Mexico to Oregon before I was born to give my siblings and me the educational opportunities they didn't have as children. They worked long, tough hours in low-paying jobs to give us a roof over our heads and food on the table, and stressed the importance of obtaining a college degree in order to break the cycle of poverty we've all known our whole lives. Thanks to the teachers, mentors, and friends I had in my church and at school, I had the support I needed to do well in school, despite the obstacles I faced.

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

I think the main challenges I had as a first gen student were not necessarily academic, but more on the personal side. I attended low-income and racially diverse schools in East Portland, and coming to UP was a culture shock in every aspect. I had to wrestle with questions regarding my class and race, and for awhile I felt I had to appear as every bit as financially well-off and "white" as the majority of my classmates. Studying abroad, having reflective conversations with friends and classmates both inside and outside the classroom, and being intentional about dealing with these kinds of questions not only helped me accept myself and my upbringing, but be thankful for the lessons learned for growing up the way I did.

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

Reach out for help. Speaking from personal experience, there are numerous academic, social, personal, and spiritual resources available to all students. Utilize every person and tool available at UP to help you navigate college successfully. I know I wouldn't have become the person I am today if it wasn't for using the Shepard Academic Resource Center, Health and Counseling Center, Career Center, and forming relationships with all the wonderful staff who work in those amazing centers.

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

My academic advisers were both amazing mentors for me, as well as my supervisors in the Shepard Academic Resource Center. I also had a student mentor from Christie Hall who helped me adjust to college life my freshman year. They all provided me with guidance and opportunities for personal and professional development, and I'm thankful for their help.

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

I was lucky to have a lot of awesome experiences at UP. Living in Christie Hall, studying abroad in both Salzburg, Austria and Granada, Spain, and studying Communication and Spanish all taught me many valuable lessons, but the main way they prepared me for life after college was to keep an flexible, humble, and curious outlook on life, both personally and professionally. There is no one right path after college, but if I take advantage of the opportunities given to me, learn from and empathize with the people I meet, and say yes to new things, I'll end up exactly where I need to be.

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