From the Georgia First Generation Foundation, Project NextGen is a series that dives into what makes first-generation students the next generation of global leaders and forward thinkers. Georgia First interviews current first-generation college students, graduates, and successful leaders from different areas of work to learn about their upbringings, their mindset, and how they came to become successful first-generation advocates.
Valyn Lyric Turner is a spoken word artist, actor, and singer-songwriter from Buford, Georgia. She is a 2019 graduate of Lanier High School and currently attends Boston University as a Posse scholar. In 2018, Valyn's passion for poetry took her to the national stage as representative for the state of Georgia in Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation contest sponsored by the NEA. She is now proud to have collaborated with numerous schools, businesses, and nonprofits across the country, including in her home county of Gwinnett, sharing her love of language in hopes of inspiring, empowering, and serving others through her craft. She is also the recipient of Georgia First's 2019 Dr. Bobby Gueh Leadership Award, recognizing community members for their outstanding achievements and ongoing contributions to first-generation students and the community.
It has been one year since we interviewed Chris Parra, now a rising senior and Civil Engineering Student at Kennesaw State University. It has also been one year since the world responded to the Coronavirus pandemic with a shift in how we handle our routine. This special episode will look at how much has changed in one year for Chris, and how his aspirations have only gotten stronger since then.
Gerardo Perez is the son of two Mexican immigrants from Cuamio, Michoacan, Mexico. He is a first-generation college graduate and the first one to venture into the corporate world. Gerardo grew up in Dalton, Georgia and upon finishing high school attended Georgia State University, where he graduated with degrees in Finance and Real Estate. He is now an investment banking analyst in the leveraged finance group at Bank of America, based out of New York.
Octavio Jesus Aguado is an alumnus of the University of North Georgia where he studied Biology. He currently works at Valdosta State University as a Residence Hall Director. He is in a master’s program of Higher Education Leadership. He also volunteers as a graduation coach for high school students with the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education. He hopes to work with the Board of Regents of the University of Georgia because he wants to instil changes within undocumented student policies.
Jonathan Vázquez García is a Mexican, First Generation, DACA, and 4th-year student at Georgia State University. Jonathan majors in Public Health with a concentration in Pre-Med. He is very passionate about medicine and public health and how it can help the Latinx community in many ways. Jonathan aspires to become a Cardiothoracic Surgeon and help the Latinx community by creating access to medical resources and services that impede undocumented and end medical disparities found in his community. He hopes to obtain my MPH from John Hopkins and later get his MD from NYU.
Kelly Nguyen is the proud daughter of two first-generation Vietnamese-Americans. As the first college graduate in my family, she considers myself both an Atlanta and Charlotte native. Kelly is currently pursuing her Juris Doctorate at Emory Law, class of 2023. When she is not studying, she spends her time weightlifting and planning my next travel trip!
Fortune is a Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University graduate. He found himself interested in helping healthcare and mission-driven organizations improve their cybersecurity challenges and overall security posture. Fortune currently works at Protiviti as a Senior Technology Consultant under the Security & Privacy department. Fortune wants to ensure that the right information is getting to the right people, to make the right decision at the right time for the patients we serve.
A servant leader, Fortune is the co-founder of a not for profit organization, The Just Focus Foundation. We are millennial philanthropists with a passion for serving and empowering others. Each year we create multiple large service projects that will help those who are disfranchised. Fortune is also a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated.
Daniela Uribe is a first-generation sophomore at Stanford University, where she plans to major in Engineering Physics with a minor in Italian. She strives to become an engineer or academic who can inspire others with similar upbringings. Daniela recounts her experiences growing up as a Chicana and as the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, and how this and other influential people in her life motivated her to become a first-gen college student.
Bryson Henriott is a first-generation college student from Vidalia, Georgia. Currently, he is attending the University of Georgia majoring in Political Science, Public Relations, and Communication Studies with the hopes of attending law school and working within politics and advocacy. Coming from a very rural area of South Georgia where he graduated with fourteen students to now attending the University of Georgia with 35k students was a huge transition but has afforded him many opportunities. He has worked on several congressional campaigns, in the office of his state senator, and for his county manager looking at local government on the inside. Bryson is currently a Senator for the Student Government Association at the University of Georgia, the treasurer for RISE (Rural Students Igniting Success in Education), serves on University Council, and is an Involvement Ambassador at the University of Georgia. Bryson to use my background to continue to develop my leadership skills and foster change in this country.
Noel Salaices is a first-generation student who graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and a minor in Film/Videos studies. He is the son of Mexican immigrant parents who moved to the big city to pursue a college degree. Throughout his time at Georgia State, he interned for various companies in the entertainment and sports industries and currently works as a distribution coordinator for WarnerMedia. This episode looks into his journey as a first-generation Mexican-American college student and how he learned ways to navigate life as a Latino in corporate America.
Sebastian Puerta is an alumnus of the University of Georgia where he studied economics. He currently works at Opportunity Insights, an economics research lab at Harvard University, where he works with Professor Raj Chetty to study upward mobility in the United States. Sebastian hopes to get his Ph.D. in economics and become a professor. He plans to use the insights obtained from his research to advocate for better and smarter policies to tackle poverty, inequality, and the lack of upward mobility in America.
Jeremiah de Sesto is a first-generation Filipino-American and a current honors student at the University of Georgia pursuing degrees in International Affairs and Management Information Systems with an emphasis in International Business. Jeremiah has served as the National President of National Beta, the largest independent educational youth organization in the United States, co-founded Cover to Cover, a state-wide youth non-profit initiative, and has worked as a senior and junior intern for three major national campaigns, and more currently as a Staff Assistant at the Georgia General Assembly and House of Representatives. This episode will look into how Jeremiah uses his experiences to instill a passion for servant leadership, youth empowerment, and public service, and how he wants to pursue a career in advocating for the common rights of all people while positively effecting socio-economic factors.
Laura Blanco is a freshman Business Management student at the University of Georgia, and also minors in Spanish. Laura wants to work for a major company in the future and today's episode will look at the ways in which she will use her management degree to get involved and help the Hispanic Community.
Luz Maria Arroyave is a first-generation student attending Georgia State University who will be graduating early, this fall, from their Accelerated Nursing Program. She is a proud daughter of Colombian immigrants and also works at Georgia First as our Programs Director. This episode looks into her journey of applying to Nursing School, competing with non-first gen students, her passion for helping the Latinx community, and how she went from a 2.6 GPA in high school to a 4.18 GPA her freshman year of college.
Chris Parra is a first-generation sophomore studying Civil Engineering with a Construction Management minor at Kennesaw State University. Along with his studies, he interns at Tensar International Corporation, a civil engineering construction material manufacturer. In this episode, we talk about how he manages to overcome obstacles that come with being a first-generation student, the work he does, and what his plans are for becoming a professional engineer.
Manuel Reyes is the STEM Robotics Club Facilitator for Edu-Futuro since September 2019 as a member of the Moving Forward! AmeriCorps program. He graduated with a B.S. in Molecular Biology from Stetson University in 2018, after which he served as an urban educator through AmeriCorps in Newark, New Jersey. As a first-generation student in the Northern Virginia area, and as a son of Salvadoran immigrants, the opportunity to be actively involved with Edu-Futuro’s mission and its beneficiaries resonated highly with his background. We will be talking about how he is inspiring, educating, and motivating the next generation of Latino and immigrant youth to pursue their interests in STEM in his current role.
For more information about Edu-Futuro, visit http://edu-futuro.org/.
Justin Acosta, a second-year Computer Science student at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, talks about how he came to Georgia State and about his passion in identifying ways in which computer science and technology intersect with community advocacy that serves underrepresented and marginalized communities, like the Hispanic and Latino community in the state of Georgia.
Allison Smith is a first-generation student from Southeast Georgia and our current Chief Marketing Officer at Georgia First. This episode looks at her journey to medical school and how her experiences from a small town to a large SEC university and her volunteer work, including her work with Georgia First, have shaped her to the advocate she is today.