First-Generation Stories

Learn about our first-generation faculty and students at the College of Science and see how their experiences at the University of Nevada, Reno shaped them. 

Brenda Lopez headshot

Meet Brenda Lopez

Hello! My name is Brenda Lopez, and I am an Academic Advisor at the College of Science. As a first-generation student, I am so excited that the College of Science offers a program that supports our students in reaching their goals in higher education. During my undergraduate career, I was able to prosper in my courses because I had the support of not only my family, but programs like Golden Scholars to guide and support me through graduation. Obtaining my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish and minors in Sociology and Spanish Translation was a daunting goal I was able to achieve not only through my hard work, but with the guidance of my mentor in First in the Pack, resources on campus like the Math and Writing Center, and support from my professors who also wanted me to succeed. My academic success in my undergraduate career opened the door for me to continue my education at the graduate level. I was awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistantship which alleviated the financial burden that comes with higher education and gave me the opportunity to teach. Although I discovered that teaching was not my path, I did learn that helping other students progress in their educational careers was the path for me. That brings me to why I love working under student services. I am here to be one of the many helping hands at the University that facilitates the transition between high school and college and assists our students in reaching their academic goals.

Lauren Parker headshot

Meet Lauren Parker

Hi, my name is Lauren, and I am the first in my family to receive a bachelor’s degree. Being a first-generation student, a woman pursuing STEM education, coming from a historically underrepresented background, and being a transfer student, the road to receiving my degree was untraditional, and at times, very stressful. Due to financial aid issues, I could not attend the University of Nevada, Reno right after high school as planned. I was disheartened and upset that I couldn’t have a university experience my freshman year like my friends, but knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t change a thing. Sierra College humbled me and set me on a path for success. I transferred to the University shortly after to pursue my B.S. in Biology. While initially interested in pursuing medicine, my undergraduate research and teaching experience made me realize how much I enjoy being on a university campus and working with students. I am passionate about helping students in higher education, especially those who, like me, are a nontraditional student. I wish Golden Scholars existed while I was in school because my only regret that I have after graduating is not getting more involved and making more friends. I also think Golden Scholars would have helped me navigate the plethora of opportunities, resources, and services that I wasn’t aware of back then. I believe that all first-generation students within the College of Science would greatly benefit from participating in Golden Scholars!

Natalie Servellon headshot

Meet Natalie Servellon

Hello, my name is Natalie Servellon, and I am a proud first-generation college graduate. I remember my first week being on campus as a college student and feeling a mix of emotions-excited, nervous, and overwhelmed. I asked myself multiple times, can I do this, as I learned how to manage my classes, prepare for the next semester, work, and personal time? As a college student, one has more autonomy; however, that does not mean we should not seek help from others. Our college is full of people who care about our students and resources to help them succeed both in their academics and personal life. Without the help of academic advisors, mentors, professors, and classmates, I would not have been able to navigate the college world or graduate with my bachelor's degree in Human Development and Family Studies. I have now returned to the university to share my knowledge and experiences with students and hope that students feel that they also can do it. Si se puede!

Catherine Fernandez headshot

Meet Catherine Fernandez

Hello! My name is Catherine, and I am proud to be a first-generation college graduate. I received my Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and my minor in Community Health Sciences, but the path getting there had more than its fair share of bumps. Being a successful student in high school couldn’t have prepared me for how drastic of a change university would be. As one of the first in my family to go to college, I navigated the system of higher education on my own, and felt lost within it more times than not. It was only after I had graduated that I learned of the breadth of resources that were available to me, but never knew of during my time as a student. A program like Golden Scholars would’ve supported me in the ways that I truly needed it. The opportunity to be the person I needed when I was a student has me determined to make this program the best that it can be. I love working with students, and I'm eager to help create a space for other first-generations to share in community, academics, and aspirations for the future.

Mitzi Garcia Hernandez headshot

Meet Mitzi Garcia Hernandez

Hello! My name is Mitzi and I am a first generation Chicana college graduate! I completed my Bachelor's at the University of California, Santa Barbara and my Master's at San Jose State! During my first year as an undergrad, there were many instances where I felt disconnected with my peers and out of place within the university. I decided to join a Multicultural organization on campus and that really helped me connect with other first generation students of color who were having similar experiences as me! Through this organization, I was able to find my home away from home, build strong friendships, and create a strong support group who pushed me to succeed academically. I hope that Golden Scholars can have the same effect on first generation student in the College of Science!

Diana Mendoza headshot

Meet Diana Mendoza

Hello! My name is Diana Mendoza and I am first generation college graduate! I am proud and thankful for the path that I took during my undergraduate career. I was a transfer student from TMCC, although I found that being a transfer student left me with so many questions, it allowed me to navigate and understand how to seek help in this process. As I made my way to the University of Nevada, Reno, I was very fortunate to find a program like Golden Scholars to take me on as a mentor. Dean’s Future Scholars gave me an opportunity to work with local high school and middle school students to share my experiences with and guide them through the many changing faces of teenage years. I watched the unity that the mentors who grew up within the program had and wished I had found a program like Golden Scholars to have that unity with. My hope that Golden Scholars will be the opportunity that I received with Dean’s Future Scholars, it will give you the place to share your experiences and change the perspectives of your own lives.