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Full Conversation with David T, Raul, Flor, David C, Rosa


David Telix
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Washington
High School: Mount Vernon HS
College: U of Washington
Year in College: Class of 2021
Major: food system, health, and nutrition
David’s Places: Leadership without borders ( that helps undocumented students), Purple group (club for undocumented students), Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity inc. The Brotherhood Initiative (class similar to CAMP to help students navigate college) Ethnic cultural center, Lift heavy Lift Happy (club)
First generation student: yes
Reach out to David on Instagram: @daah_veed  and Snapchat: davisilver98


Raul Villanueva
Hometown: Toppenish, WA
High School: Toppenish HS

College: University of Washington
Year in College:
Class of 2022
Major: Electrical Engineering

Raul’s Places: STARS Washington State Academic RedShirt Program  - CAMP College Assistance Migrant Program -  SHPE - Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers - AVELA - A Vision for Electronic Literacy and Access, EPE - Engineering Peer Educator. EA - Engineering Ambassador
Are you a first-generation student?: Yes
Reach out to Raul on Instagram: @villanueva.rau


Flor Gomez
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Washington
High School: Mount Vernon HS

Year in College: Class of 2021
College: U of Washington
American Ethnic Studies

Flor's Places in College: UW IELP (International English Language Partner), JSA (Japanese Student Association): Learning about Japanese culture and traditions, KSA (Korean Student Association): Learning about Korean culture, CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program), UW Study Abroad
First-generation student?: Yes
Best social media contact: Facebook: Flor Gomez


David Cueva
Hometown: Buena, Washington
High School: Toppenish HS

College: U of Washington
Year in College:
Class of 2022
Major: Computer Science
David’s Places: CAMP -  College Assistant Migrant Program, S.T.A.R.S in Engineering WA State Academic Redshirt Program, Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity Inc, GEN1.
High School Extracurriculars: VEX Robotics, TSA, Soccer
First-gen student: Yes
Reach out to David by e-mail:


Rosa Mendoza
Hometown: Mount Vernon, WA
High School: Mount Vernon HS

Year in College: Class of 2021
Major: Double major: Education, Community, and Organization (ECO) and American Ethnic Studies (AES). Minor: Diversity

Places in CollegeSamuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC)UW Purple GroupLeadership Without Borders Husky Lending Library
Are you a first-generation student?: Yes
Reach out to Rosa on: Facebook: Rosa Mendoza and Instagram: @rosamendoza630



Hashtag Directory: #WhoIs #highschool #background #GEARUP #dreamjob #applyingtocollege #scholarships #firstgen #financialaid #payingforcollege #studentloans #makingfriends #transition #gettinghelp #mentalhealth #uncomfortableexperience #people #places #advice 

00:00 introductions

02:37 Harlan asks David T what his dream job is. He wants to work in the school system. He wants to pursue masters in teaching and then work in administration, perhaps becoming a superintendent. #dreamjob

5:40 Harlan asks David C to describe his high school self. He says he was a bit of a bookworm and very education oriented. He had planned to leave the valley and go to school somewhere. A lot of people tend to stay in the valley but he didn’t want that to be him. He wanted to see what other opportunities are out there. He and his parents worked in the fields. He didn’t want to do that for the rest of his life. David talks about what the work was like and what crops he would work on. The panelists talk about how each of their parents also worked in the fields as well. #WhoIs #highschool #background

9:56 Harlan asks Raul to describe himself in HS. He says he was also always in the classroom. He was part of the soccer player group. He also wanted to get out of the valley and move on to other things. #WhoIs #highschool #background

11:58 Harlan asks Rosa to describe herself in HS. She was usually a straight A student. She also was involved with a lot of leadership work, like preparing for homecoming. She also did a lot of advocating for migrant workers. She was able to travel around the country with the leaders club. #WhoIs #highschool #background

13:53 Harlan asks Flor to describe her HS self. She says she was pretty quiet and shy and wasn’t very ambitious. She didn’t push herself too much until about senior year. She still got good grades. #WhoIs #highschool #background

15:29 Harlan asks David T to describe himself in HS. He was all over the place. He was working. He would make friends through programs that he would volunteer with. He started a gaming club. #WhoIs #highschool #background

17:30 Harlan asks Raul to reflect on GEAR UP’s impact. He thinks back to when he was applying for scholarships, the school would offer scholarship nights. He would stay after school because he had to go to robotics anyway, so he would fill the gap of free time by going to the scholarship night and get that work done while he was there. He was able to get fully funded through scholarships, about 30K. Raul looks back on all the help GEAR UP gave him and wonders if he would be where he is now if he didn’t have that support.#GEARUP

20:04 Harlan asks David C about GEAR UP. He talks about how daunting the FAFSA was at first, especially for first generation students. He would go to the GEAR UP office just to ask questions. Because both of his parents are undocumented, he didn’t know what to do about the fact that they don’t have social security numbers. GEAR UP helped him navigate the FAFSA in his case. David also brings up the WAFSA for students in Washington State. He says his parents also only speak Spanish and he wouldn’t always know how to translate documents when it came to some of the vocabulary used in government documents.  Harlan asks David C and the group about asking for help and the difficulty a lot of first gen students have asking for help. #GEARUP  #applyingtocollege #financialaid #firstgen

28:16 Rosa talks about GEAR UP. She mentions the importance of having a place to go on campus. She would go to have lunch at the office and chat with the GEAR UP staff. She connected with Mr Espinoza, Mr Fischer Ms Baez. #GEARUP

29:50 Flor shares a story about a day that Mr Espinoza set up a tour for gear up students going to UW. He drove them to the campus to check out the campus. Her parents had never been there before.   #GEARUP

31:28  Harlan asks David T how his family felt about him moving out to go to school. He says his family is used to being very close together and there’s a tight family bond. So it was difficult during the first quarter to adjust. He realized if he kept going back home constantly, it would have an effect on his grades. David shares how his mother struggles with a mental disorder. It’s difficult to realize there’s nothing you can do to control when someone is having a difficult time like that. He had to work with his family to set up a support system to make sure things are taken care of while he was away at school. Finding that balance was difficult. #firstgen #transition #family

35:55 Harlan asks Rosa if she struggled with family dynamics when going to college. She says she was the first to go to college. Her sisters live only 10 minutes away. For her to move further away was difficult. Her family always wanted her to come back every weekend. It was difficult balancing those two different worlds. But she talked with her parents and they were understanding. #firstgen #transition #family

37:30 Harlan asks David C if it was hard for him or his family, moving away for school. It was hard for his family at first but as time went on they realized it was important for David to pursue his goals and take advantage of the opportunities he was given. He moved 3 hours away to come to UW. #transition #family

38:30 Harlan asks Raul how his family adjusted to him being away. His family also works in the fields. He would always help around the house with things like fixing the car etc. He had a talk with his parents to communicate that he had a lot to do at school and worrying about home and not being there makes things difficult. His parents were understanding, and David felt a little guilty at first. But they realized he needed to focus on school. He encourages other students in similar situations that if there’s a will, there’s a way. #firstgen #transition #family

41:06 David T chimes in and adds that the real benefit to being in college is getting the exposure to different opportunities and opening doors that you wouldn’t even discover if you stayed at home. 

43:55 Harlan asks David about his first quarter and the difficult time he had. He said his WAFSA was denied the first time. There was some complications with documents. He was in danger of failing one of his classes. He asked his advisors for help. He was able to withdraw from that class. He mentions the Brotherhood Initiative being a great help. That also helped him realize he had to focus on school and create a structure back at home to care for his family so he could focus better. He explains more about the Brotherhood and how it compares to camp. They help a lot with showing you the resources on campus and exam prep etc. #uncomfortableexperience #people #places

49:14 Harlan asks David C if he always thought he would get to UW and what his journey was to get there. He said he had an idea he’d go to college but didn’t know the specifics. He knew he had to have a plan. He applied to a lot of schools around Washington as contingency plans but UW was always at the top of the list. Once he got in he started thinking about how to pay for it. With GEAR UP and with some friends he would hunt for scholarships. He breaks down the different scholarships he applied for and what he received. #applyingtocollege #scholarships

55:00 Flor talks about how she got to UW. She says she wanted to be close to home but still away from home so UW was good because it was about an hour away. She had a teacher that helped her find scholarships. She comes from a low income family but she was determined to find a way to go and pay for it. She found a lot of scholarships and would ask her family if they could help at all. Harlan asks if she gets stressed out but she says she hasn’t had a panic attack. She mentions she was able to study abroad in Japan. She found scholarships to help pay for it.  #scholarships

59:50 Harlan asks Rosa if she gets stressed out. She says she is very focused on getting good grades so she gets stressed if she starts falling behind. She is doing an internship helping middle school students. Rosa says her dream job is to be a counselor, she also wants to do something similar to GEAR UP and help students prepare for college. #dreamjob

1:01:50 Harlan asks David C how he got the internship with Microsoft. He says it was very hard to get into. He went to a  lot of career fairs. He contacted about 100 companies and heard back from maybe 10 then between those 10 he had to do interviews and none of them got back to him. It got to a point that he started to question himself. He mentions he was part of the stars program, one of the advisors mentioned the microsoft opportunity. He figured he would apply for it using that connection. He interviewed, it went well, and he got the internship. #people #places

1:05:58 Raul talks about what STARS is. It helps get you acclimated to academic life on campus for engineers and gives you a lot of preparation classes. It does turn you into a 5 year student but it is a great support program and it gives you a lot of connections. He explains the application process. David C knew about it and let Raul know about it.
#people #places

1:10:20 Harlan asks Raul how he ended up at UW. He applied to a few schools, including UW and a community college. He knew David and some other friends were at UW and he put some extra effort into that application. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to pay for it. He thinks he’ll be in debt for a little bit. He got the costco scholarship which covered a lot of the cost. #scholarships

1:14:10 Flor talks about CAMP and the impact it had. It’s for low income families and students from migrant backgrounds. They give financial assistance and resources. They also have great academic services and aid you in reviewing your classes. David C says having a community of people that come from a similar background helps a lot.
#people #places

1:16:35 Harlan asks what other places on campus are good for students to find others from similar backgrounds and find connections. David T mentions the ECC. Lots of people go there to eat and hang out, and there are lots of programs there. #people #places

1:22:00 Harlan asks the panelists where they found friends. David C mentions STARS and CAMP. A lot of friends came from those freshman year classes that you can study with other classmates for. There was a club he helped found called Gen1 for first gen CS students. He likes being able to create a place for other students like himself.
#people #places #makingfriends

1:26:00 Harlan asks David T his places. He says the ECC and purple group are great. He also made a lot of friends through the dorms. There are lots of clubs to find people with the same interests as you. #people #places #makingfriends

1:27:36 Harlan asks Flor for her places. She says the Korean and Japanese student associations and international English language program. #people #places

1:30:00 Raul names some places he found connection. He says the ECC is great, they host a lot of events. There are lots of student orgs that are there. He found SHPE there which is for hispanic engineers. You don’t have to be hispanic or an engineer to join though. #people #places #makingfriends

1:31:30 Harlan asks Rosa about places she found connection on campus. She adds the dream project, for anyone that has a desire to work with students. She got a job through doing that. #people #places

1:32:55 Harlan asks Raul his most uncomfortable experience. He says his mom and dad both had some surgeries which made being far away difficult. #uncomfortableexperience

1:33:55 Rosa shares her most uncomfortable experience. She says it’s nice being away from family but sometimes academics become overwhelming. She also feels a bit disconnected with her culture because she isn’t able to speak her native language with anyone at school. But she’s able to refuel and center herself when she goes home to visit. #uncomfortableexperience

1:35:08 Flor shares her most uncomfortable experience. She shares that she has failed 2 classes. She started to wonder what she was supposed to major in and what she wanted to do. Rosa recommended to Flor that she try the American Ethnic Studies major. She realized she was more interested in that and her GPA started going up. She talks about failing and working through it by taking classes in the summer. She realized she wasn’t interested in science. #uncomfortableexperience

1:37:32 Harlan asks David T if he stays in contact with anyone from high school that helped him. He mentions a friend from high school and how they support each other even if they don’t talk a whole lot. #people

1:38:50 Rosa says she stays in contact with her 2nd grade teacher. She tells a story of how welcoming she was and helpful when Rosa was in grade school. Rosa wasn’t fluent in English and Miss Jones helped by trying to use what Spanish she knew. #people

1:41:59 Harlan asks the panelists what advice he would give his high school self. David C says he would tell himself to go after every opportunity that presents itself.  #advice

1:43:50 Rosa would tell herself not to overthink things, and go after what she wants. #advice

1:44:57 David T would tell his freshman self that worrying does not help. It just causes stress. Thinking about what you’ve achieved so far and the progress you’ve made and being a first gen student is huge. Be humble but take some pride in the things you’ve done.

1:46:46 Flor would tell herself to be more bold and join more clubs and volunteer. She feels like she didn’t try much in high school. She thinks she’d have a better idea of what she wanted to do if she had explored more in high school.  #advice

1:47:44 Raul would tell himself to think bigger. He would encourage himself to shoot for As and not settle for Bs. He talks about having to leave the soccer team to join robotics but it worked out because he was able to travel with the robotics team to Florida.  #advice