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First-generation student finds place at UD and abroad

Photo courtesy of Andrew Garcia

Andrew Garcia urges new students to explore resources at UD

On the hunt for an outstanding study abroad program, first-generation college student Andrew Garcia knew he’d met his match when he was accepted into the University of Delaware’s World Scholars Program that would send him abroad not once, but twice in his undergraduate career. Now, having settled in at UD’s ‘gorgeous’ main campus and completed his sophomore year as a political science and public policy dual major, Garcia describes how his experiences thus far have changed him as a person and set him on a trajectory to change the lives of others in an interview with the Division of Student Life.

Andrew Garcia
Andrew Garcia

Q: What memorable experiences have defined your University of Delaware experience?

Andrew Garcia: Where I’m from in California, it really was a melting pot of cultures and where I went to high school, I’d say it was maybe 60% Hispanic and about 10% white. Here at the University it’s the complete opposite, at about 60% white. I’m someone that really likes to go out of my shell, and being able to come to UD and really indulge in another culture has been unique and memorable for me. If I had to pick one memorable experience, I’d say it was the World Scholars program which I was accepted into about a month after getting into UD. I spent my first semester in Rome, and it’s true what they say about studying abroad — you come back a completely different person.

When I first got to Newark, I got involved in jazz ensemble and rugby which are two big passions of mine, but I eventually decided to prioritize my time differently. I became the president of We’re First, which is a registered student organization designed to help first-generation college students succeed on campus, and all of my attention and resources are now going toward helping this group grow on campus. We’re setting up seminars and panels for next semester, building a mentorship program, and we’re going to be setting up a scholarship fund. On my executive board are 7 students who have never been on an executive board before, and neither have I and I need to lead them. This will be a very big memory for me. I’m learning not only to hold myself accountable, but to hold others accountable for what their tasks are in the friendliest way possible, and how to manage without micromanaging so that they can put their own ideas into their work.

Q: How has UD supported you in becoming a thriving Blue Hen?

Andrew Garcia: There are so many great resources available; I only wish more people knew about them. Everything is interconnected: I found HOLA, the Latino RSO, which pointed me to the Center for Black Culture, which pointed me to the first-generation network, once all the pieces fall into place it’s just a great experience and it really shows you what the University has to offer. Not knowing what resources are available is what places first-generation students at a disadvantage.

Spring Activities Night was great for me, with spring being my arrival to the Newark campus. I sought out HOLA because I needed to plant my roots first before branching out. They introduced me to so many people and experiences that really helped me settle into UD, and I’ve grown from there to really become my own person. I plan to work in government to enact new policies and lead change, and I know that the experiences I’ve undertaken here will help me beyond UD.

Q: What advice do you have for students who may be interested in following a similar path?

Andrew Garcia: Don’t be afraid. Don’t let your gut tell you you’re not going to be capable of what you want to do. If you need guidance, look up some YouTube videos on how to be a leader or how to gain the basic foundation that you need, and then try to grow a sense of comfortability into what you’re doing. When I got an email from We’re First about open elections for the next executive board, I had never led anything before and just decided to go for it. You won’t grow as a leader if you don’t take risks.

About World Scholars

The first-of-its-kind UD World Scholars Program provides a four-year structured framework for internationalizing a student’s academic program of study. Students begin their first year with a fall semester in Italy, Spain or New Zealand and, upon arrival to UD’s campus in the spring, World Scholars declare a globally-focused minor, join clubs and dive into the greater UD community. In their sophomore year, Scholars live alongside international students in the International House Living Learning Community, polishing intercultural skills and making new friends.  As juniors, World Scholars head abroad for a second time, earning academic credits and enhancing their professional portfolios through an internship, community service or research experience. Their participation culminates in a Spring Scholars Symposium at the close of their senior year.

Prospective Blue Hens with curious minds and wandering hearts are encouraged to explore the World Scholars program online, attend an Admissions presentation and follow along on social media using #UDWorldScholar.

About We’re First

We’re First is a registered student organization offered through the University Student Centers that is inclusive to first generation students and to those interested in supporting first generation students at the University of Delaware. First generation means that they are the first in their family to attend college. This initiative strives to create a web of communications that will ensure that all participants are given the necessary resources to SOAR (supportive, open-minded, aware, responsible) by creating an environment that is open-minded, inclusive, and functional for students who are first generation. More information can be found on UD’s engagement portal, Student Central.

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