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Oregon GEAR UP



ABOUT GEAR UP:  Oregon GEAR UP's goal is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary programs.

ABOUT THE PANELISTS: The panelists are all graduates of Riverside Jr/Sr High School attending the University of Portland, University of Oregon, and Blue Mountain Community College.


Abby Hernandez 2

Abby Hernandez
Hometown: Boardman, OR
High School: Riverside Jr/Sr High School
University: University of Oregon
Studied AAOT Degree at Blue Mountain Community College
Year in College: Class of 2021
Major: Business Administration with a concentration in Sports and International Business and a minor in Spanish
Abby’s Places: Club Softball Captain, Warsaw-member, Diverse Organization of Business Students-Member
First-Generation College Student: Yes
Reach out to Abby on Facebook and Instagram: @hernandez_abbyFacebook


Daniel Rodriguez 3

Daniel Rodriguez Pena
Hometown: Boardman, OR
High School: Riverside Jr/Sr High School
University: University of Portland
Year in College: Class of 2022
Major: Operations and Technology Management (Business), Spanish
Daniel’s Places: Club: Operations Management Association (VP of Marketing), Pilot Real Estate club (Project Development)
First Gen? Yes
Reach Out to Daniel on Instagram: @danielrodriguez03

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Faith Rosen
Hometown: Boardman, Oregon
High School: Riverside Jr/Sr High School
University: Blue Mountain Community College
Year in College: Class of 2022
Major: Nursing
Faith’s Places: Nursing social media manager
First Gen? No
Reach Out to Faith on Instagram: @_faithrosen



Ruby Barrera 2

Ruby Barrera
Hometown: Boardman, OR,
High School: Riverside Jr/Sr High School
University: University of Portland
Year in College: Class of 2022
Major: Business Marketing and Sociology double major
Campus Involvement: Currently a Ford Family Scholar Mentor, Latinx Student Union member, and a previous UP connections mentee
First Gen?: No
Reach Out to Ruby on Instagram: @R_ barrera18




Luis Olvera
Hometown: Boardman Oregon
High School: Riverside Jr/Sr High School
University:  Western Oregon University
Year in College: Class of 2021
Major: Computer Science with a minor in Business
Luis’ Places: Omega Delta Phi (Community Service Chair) Resonate Church (Church Leader), WOU Soccer Club, Off-Campus: HACU Adelante - Leadership in residence, TheDream.US Scholar, promoter and representer, HSF Scholar, Promoter, and representer, InventOregon: Showcasing the Click Bulb
First Gen?: Yes
Reach Out to Luis on Instagram: @luilui_14




Ford Family Scholarship:
University of Portland:
Blue Mountain Community College:
University of Oregon:
TRIO Support Services:
Oregon Club Softball:
Warsaw Sports Business Club:
Diverse Organization of Business Students (DOBS):


DETAILED BREAKDOWN (search by hashtag)

#scholarship #application #family #transition #scholarship #makingfriends #academics #diversity #uncomfortable #ImposterSyndrome #first #generation #family #transition #scholarship #makingfriends #mentalhealth #relationships #communitycollege  #application #admissions #transition #homesick #stress #anxiety #StudyAbroad #Goals #FAFSA #FinancialAid #Background #Family #College #Search


“Luis shares his background information” 

1:43 / 4:26 Luis talks about his high school self.  He describes himself as a little weird. #background

“Abby shares her background information” 

2:57 /  5:45 Abby talks about her high school herself. She describes herself as an introverted extrovert. She was honest and a bit blunt in high school. She was social. Some of the other panelists chime in about her being a bit intimidating in high school. Harlan talks with her about how people react to her personality and how she deals with people who might not get along with how she carries herself. #background 

“Ruby shares her background information” 

3:17 / 53:24  Ruby talks about her high school self. She was a “leader type” class president. She would volunteer in the community. She was very social with her class and most people. #background

“Daniel shares his background information” 

5:31 / 8:55 Daniel talks about his high school self. Describes himself as a nice person and hard worker. #background

“Faith shares his background information” 

6:06 / 10:07 Faith talks about her high school self, she is younger than the rest of the panel. She tried to be pretty involved in HS, and played a lot of sports.  She wanted to get some good activities on her applications for scholarships. She wishes she made some more meaningful friendships. She moved to the area in freshman year. #background #application 

“Getting Grounded for his First HS Report Card Made Him Want to Go to College”

8:23 / 12:05: Daniel talks about when he decided to go to college. Freshman year of high schoo he got his report card back, his sister was always a straight A student. He got a 3.3 GPs and he was pretty happy about that. But he got in trouble with his parents, got his phone taken away. He realized how much grades mattered to his parents and how important making the habit of getting good grades matters to get scholarships and get into college. #application #family

“Education was always important, But Seeing Her Sister In College Made It Her Goal”

11:00 / 15:16 Ruby talks about when college became important to her. Mom was a single mom. She talks about her family mentality regarding school was always important. When she was in 8th grade her sister was doing her associates degree which really motivated her. Cost of college scared her a little bit but she never felt like she could never do it. She talks about getting the Ford Scholarship and how that changed everything to let her go to a 4 year school. #scholarship #application #family

“Being First-gen: Going to College Was Never a Question of IF, but HOW”

“How a Strong Support System Got This First-gen Student a Full Ride Scholarship”

12:57 / 17:23 Luis talks about getting a scholarship as well. He got the scholarship. He said he owes a lot to Ms Rosen for encouraging him to apply. He doesn’t consider himself smart but he has friends that constantly push him to do better, he says he owes a lot to them.  Both of his parents are immigrants so he has always felt that push to go to college. The question was never if he would go to college but more about how he was going to get there. Surround yourself with good people that will help you and push you. #scholarship #people #firstgeneration #family

“She Got a Head Start on College Credits While Still in High School”

“Only Applying to Two Schools is a Risky Move”

17:57 / 22:10 Faith talks about starting nursing school, she always wanted to go into medicine. Her cousin is a nurse and she has always been a role model. She is interested in biology so it seemed like this was always the path. She did a lot of the prerequisite courses in high school. This granted her a free winter/spring semester break to focus on some of the nursing school preparation work. #communitycollege  

“A Young Entrepreneurs Program Helped this First-gen Student Identify Her Goals”

“Apply to Every Scholarship You Can Find!”

20:28 / 24:40 Abby talks about her high school self, school has always been an outlet for her, she always thought college would be the path. She didn’t know how to get there. No one in her family has succeeded in getting there, finances were a concern. But she had the goal in mind and knew that it was something she was going to make happen. She decided to go to the University of Oregon for the first time when she attended Young Entrepreneurs Business Week, Ruby introduced her to the program. The program really helped her identify her strengths and what she really liked to do. Daniel and Ruby helped her find that program. Finances were always a roadblock in the past for her siblings. Abby knew she had to get good grades to do what she could to get a scholarship. She applied to every single scholarship she possibly could. She got the Pathway Scholarship (first-gen scholarship) It takes the FAFSA and grades into account. It covers her tuition for 4 years. She got rejected by a lot of other scholarships, She applied to the Ford Scholarship but didn’t get it. Ruby and Daniel, who are also her friends, got it. But that didn’t stop her. #scholarship #collegesearch #application #financialaid

“The Advantages of Going to a Community College”

27:23 / 32:35 Faith talks about how community college is a great option because it’s so much cheaper. Abby and Luis talk about the stigma that is associated with community college and say that in some ways it can be better than a bigger school because you can interact with your professors more. #communitycollege 

“What YOU Want Vs. What Your PARENTS Want”

29:24 / 34:29 “Are you doing what you want, or are you doing what your parents want?” Ruby talks about feeling like it’s her duty to be in college and work for them. But she has been able to unpack that and realize that the work she does is ultimately for herself. #firstgeneration #family

30:54 / 35:50 Daniel echoes a similar feeling. At first you have the motivation to do better for your family, but you realize your potential and see that what you do is for you. #family

“It’s Easy to Lose Sight of Yourself When You’re Far From Home”

31:42 / 36:40 “Why do you think it’s so hard for some people to leave HS and go to college away from home?”

Abby talks about feeling very independent and wanting to be out on her own and leave high school, but then once she got out to college and suddenly felt “i don’t want to do this anymore” sort of feeling. It’s easy to lose yourself when you’re in a strange place without your friends and family. Family is a huge factor. Leaving family behind can be hard. #leavinghome #homesickness

“Freshman Year Was Lonely Until He Found His Place with a Spiritual Group”

33:34 / 38:54 Luis talks about how he made friends when he first arrived on campus. He talks about having a tough time at first. He says you need to be open minded. The way people think is so different compared to their tight knit community in Boardman. He says he didn’t have a community for the first half of freshman year. Luis talks about how he made a lot of mistakes and cheated on his girlfriend at the time which weighed on him for a long time. But then he was able to find some friends that he says he thinks will be life long. Harlan talks about having your “places.” Luis joined a ministry called “Resonate” where he was able to find connection. He also joined a fraternity. He says he was a hair away from dropping out, he wanted to quit. #makingfriends #transition #uncomfortable #places

“Your Friends Are Your Best Support System Freshman Year”

40:38 / 46:05 Ruby talks about her transition from high school to college and finding friends. She had been going to camps so it helped her realize that she was ready to leave Boardman, she really wanted to be in Portland. She met a lot of friends through her scholarship and through UP connections. Setting those friendships early on really gave her a support system. #transition #scholarship #makingfriends

“Starting College While in a Long Term Relationship”

“When You Feel Like Dropping Out, Look For Your People to Support You”

42:34 / 48:00 Daniel talks about making his first friends. The transition was easier for him because he was going to camps so he had been away from home before. He was in a long term relationship which was one thing that made it a bit harder. It was hard to focus on making friends because he was so focused academically. He would go to class, work out, focus on the relationship. The relationship kind of put him in a shell. He wishes he had pushed himself to be more outgoing. “What advice do you have for someone who is in a relationship when they start college?” He says you should be honest with yourself and each other, Faith chimes in and says to “trust your gut” If you think you’re limiting yourself, if you feel like you can be happier outside the relationship then definitely chase that feeling. Be honest with yourself and what you want. #mentalhealth #relationships 

“Abby talks about her difficult transition to life in college”

47:03 / 52:39 Abby talks about her transition from high school to college. She said it was a rough transition. She came close to dropping out. There were a number of issues. She didn’t know anyone the first year she was there. Finances were a problem. She didn’t stay in a dorm. She was off campus because it was cheaper. She couldn’t find a job. She was going home every other weekend (a 5 hour drive). She said she felt very lost, she was feeling very introverted. She had to figure out her living situation, she had to stay in a hotel the first 2 weeks of school because her original situation fell through, her car got hit in the first week of school. She had to dip into savings to help get through that rough patch. #mentalhealth #resilience #uncomfortable

“There Isn’t One Right Way to Go to College”

51:51 / 57:20  Faith talks about balancing friendships and relationships and living at home while attending school. Faith talks about how she feels she has done things in a different way to the rest of the panel and did things in phases. She did a lot of classes in HS, The fall after she graduated she did a lot of online classes. She had one in person class. She lived with Abby for a little while, she moved to Eugene for a term to get her CNA. That was her first experience moving and meeting new people. The next phase, she thinks, will be moving to her own apartment long term when she starts nursing school. She anticipates it being a big transition because she’ll meet her classmates for the next 2 years. She says it will be very different because her classmates are all much older and married with kids. #makingfriends #academics #roomate #communitycollege #relationships 

“He Never Thought He’d Fail a Class, Until He Tried Computer Science”

54:36 / 1:00:05 Daniel talks about academics and being challenged. He took a computer science class that really challenged him and he performed poorly. He thought it would be an interesting class to take but he felt like he was out of his depth. He imagined himself as someone who would never fail a class, but he ended up dropping the class. He said he learned to focus on things that he actually had an interest in and not to do something just because you think it will make you more money. He says he only took the CS course because he thought it would be a good move financially for the future. He says he reached out to Luis (who is a CS major) Luis mentions he failed his first CS class too so he knows how tough it can be. Abby also says she failed business calculus. Luis said he only passed calc because he reached out to a friend. Luis talks about finding support from great people like classmates. #academics #challenges #resilience

“Struggling with Imposter Syndrome in College Classes”
1:00:30 / 1:06:23 Ruby talks about struggling in the classroom a little bit. She says she didn’t care about getting excellent grades in HS. In college she has dropped 2 classes, last fall she dropped an accounting class because she was struggling with imposter syndrome, she was the only person of color in the class. She felt isolated by her classmates and left out of the group. She is a group learner so that affected her a lot. It was only that class that had her feeling that low. Her other major is business and she feels like she really succeeds there in those classes. She explains what imposter syndrome is. Harlan asks if anyone else has felt imposter syndrome during college and everyone raises their hand. #academics #diversity #uncomfortable 

“Should You Be Roommates with Your Friend?”

1:04:24 / 1:10:03 What is it like to live with a stranger? Roommate advice. Abby talks about not living on campus her first year, she lived in a  studio by herself. She said she felt so lonely and disconnected and it was hard to find friends. She eventually found roommates through clubs. She recommends joining clubs and making friends that way. She plays club softball and is involved in a business org.

“Should you live with a friend?” Abby and Faith talk about living together. They tell a story about how Faith would always eat Abby’s food which was a point of contention for them. #Roommate

“Learning Your Partying Limitations in College”

1:08:47 / 1:14:06 “When it comes to alcohol drugs and temptation, how do you stay on track?”

Tell me about a typical Saturday: Abby says school made her very much an introvert. She doesn’t like partying. Too many people. She would always either have a game night with roommates or watch Netflix. Daniel gives an example of two friends, one who parties all the time until getting black out drunk and does poorly academically, and one that parties a little bit and still is able to socialize in a healthy way. Daniel says it’s possible to have fun and socialize without going overboard. Faith talks about knowing yourself and it can sometimes be good to make mistakes so that you can learn and figure out your limits. Abby adds that if your main reason for going to college is to just get drunk then you could easily do that without spending $40,000 a year. Be smart, it can really ruin your college career. #drugs-alcohol #partying #makingfriends

“Students discuss The Ford Family Scholarship (a full ride scholarship)”

1:12:04 / 1:18:13 Harlan asks about minimum GPA with the Ford Scholarship. You can’t get arrested, there is a GPA requirement. Daniel is on a full ride scholarship, he is always thinking about his actions and how a misstep could cost him his scholarship. #scholarship #drugs-alcohol

“Better Safe Than Sorry, Fill Out Your FAFSA!”

1:13:59 / 1:20:07 What is it like filling out the FAFSA? What advice do you have? Abby says fill it out even if you have plans to go to college or not. The deadline is final. Best to just do it. Talk to someone who has done it before. Some scholarships might require that you have it filled out.  Daniel says his sister had done the FAFSA before so that helped him but it can be tricky to fill out the FAFSA like it was for his friends since their parents’ information wasn’t very straightforward. Reach out to high school counselors that can help you. Abby says Anna Brown was very helpful for her and ran a program for migrant families and filling out the FAFSA. #financialaid #FAFSA #advice #people

“Ruby discusses one of her places on campus”

1:16:20 / 1:22:25 Harlan asks if anyone is involved with cultural groups or organizations related to ethnicity. Ruby is in the Latinx student union. She feels really connected to that community. #places

“Luis and Abby discuss being a first-gen student and being okay making mistakes”

1:18:34 /  1:24:53 “Any advice to other first-gen students?” Luis says: be lighter on yourself. Appreciate what your parents did for you but also realize you’re your own person. Abby adds that It’s okay to not be perfect. Your mistakes don’t define you, you’re going to make mistakes but they can teach you. #advice #firstgeneration #resilience

“His Scholarship Paid for 4 Months Studying Abroad in Spain” / “You’ll Discover Yourself If You Travel Abroad”

1:19:42 / 1:26:05 Daniel talks about going abroad to Spain for 4 months where he feels he really grew a lot. His scholarship covered the cost. This is the experience that really filled him with fulfillment. Luis talks about going to Arkansas, it was a real culture shock for him. He was the only brown person among a predominantly white and black student body. Ruby talks about going abroad to Ireland and really finding the experience to be freeing. #studyabroad 

“This Student Had a Spiritual Awakening When He Studied in Arkansas”

1:22:00 / 1:28:34 Everyone says their dream job. Ruby wants to help people. She is studying business  and sociology. She wants to work on a company’s marketing campaign to focus on inclusivity and diversity. Abby talks about wanting to be involved in business in sports to create a safe space for kids growing up. Daniel wants to go into data science or business analytics. He’d like to work at Intel. Luis talks about religion being a huge force in his life and wanting to use business and computer science to do that. He talks about how his experience in Arkansas really awakened when he witnessed 19 people get physically healed at a retreat.

“She Wants to See the World as a Nurse”

Faith talks about wanting to be a traveling nurse, see the world and get to learn about many different hospitals and how they work. #dreams

“Advice to Other First-gen Students: It’s Okay to Not Be Perfect.”

1:25:14 / 1:31:43 Everyone gives their high school selves advice. Faith tells herself to follow her gut and try to experience more and befriend more people. Luis would tell himself to not be so weird and to be more loose do think everyone is thinking about you. Ruby would tell herself to make more friends in class to have that network of people to help her. Daniel would tell himself to focus on himself more, sometimes it's okay to be selfish because you’re investing in yourself. Abby says she would tell herself that it’s okay to ask for help, it’s okay to be vulnerable. #advice

“All the panelists reiterate they welcome questions from viewers"

1:27:34 / 1:34:00 “if someone wants to reach out are you okay with people asking you questions?”



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