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You First at VCU

Strategic Enrollment Management and Student Success

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Meet the mentors

VCU You First mentors are sophomore, junior, and senior first-generation college students who serve as guides to new VCU students who are also first-gen. Having learned to navigate college life, these students are excited to share their hard-earned “college knowledge” with others to help ease the transition into this new world. They know what it feels like to be brand new and they welcome questions and conversation of all sorts.

If you would like to be connected with a You First mentor, complete the matching survey. If you would like to become a mentor, read over the program description and requirements.

Savannah Cook [View Image]
Savannah Cook
Nursing and Psychology, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I think back to when I was just coming into VCU, and all the mentors I had myself. I never could have made the transition to college comfortably without all the help I had along the way. As a mentor I enjoy helping other first generation students get accustomed to university life in any way I can.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value that I am the first of my family to pursue a higher education, and I hope that I can light the way for my younger siblings. I have found a population of students that feel the same way as I do, and I am so happy that we all can learn from each other.

Faith Crawford [View Image]
Faith Crawford
Chemistry, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I take comfort in the fact that we, as mentors, help guide our mentees to make their first year go a lot more smoothly.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
Even though I was a bit scared when I first came to VCU, I love that, by being a first-gen student, I feel like I'm part of a family. We look out for each other. It's an experience that I don't think students who aren't first-gen get as quickly, because we have this niche.

Kali Delay [View Image]
Kali Delay
Interdisciplinary Studies: Crisis Intervention Specialist, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?

The best part about being a mentor is being an available resource for someone who needs it, no matter the circumstances. Whether it be for something extremely complex and confusing or something simple and straightforward, I find comfort in knowing that we don't have to solve our problems alone. There are so many great opportunities at VCU, and I'd hate for a new student to be turned away from experiences because they didn't know about them or how to approach it.

Jon Mirador [View Image]
Jon Mirador
Interdisciplinary Studies, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I most enjoy helping to guide the process of self-improvement by creating a meaningful relationship, which can impact both the mentor and the mentee. It is greatly rewarding to be that person who I once needed. 

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value the sense of fulfillment that comes with every achievement. This is because as a first-gen student, it can be difficult to see the progress we make as we keep working towards our goals. It’s important to step back and see how just how hard we’re working, and that makes everything worthwhile.

Avani Hariprashad [View Image]
Avani Hariprashad
Medical Biology and Interpersonal Psychology, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and share with them the things I have learned. 

What do you value about being a first-gen student? 
While being first-gen has been a struggle, we are a part of a strong community who is always willing to help.

Ivan Parada [View Image]
Ivan Parada
Computer Engineering, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I enjoy being a mentor because it allows for me to serve as an outlet for advice in making any life choice easier. 

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I take pride in being a first-gen student because I’m setting a prime example for my family. I want to prove to them that I’m capable of performing more than their expectations.

Brutaja Ruffin [View Image]
Brutaja Ruffin
Social Work, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor? 
I love having the opportunity to meet new first-gen students like myself, getting to apply my leadership skills, and, most importantly, getting to be there for my mentees through their first year of college!

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value the collaboration that the first-gen students and mentors put forth to becoming successful. I value the integrity we hold in becoming our true self and being honest with the life decisions we take upon. Being a first-gen student is not easy but we work hard to have better opportunities for our future.

Rosa Vasquez [View Image]
Rosa Vasquez
Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I most enjoy being able to not only connect with my mentee but also to aid them in all their strides for success.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
Being a first-gen student has an intimidating factor to it; however, without that intimidation we wouldn't push harder and listen more to ensure we are on track with the rest of the herd. I value this responsibility and accountability. First-gen students may not start with all the extra advice and prior knowledge, but we will finish with all of that and more!

Raymond Velez [View Image]
Raymond Velez
Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
Knowing that I am helping others grow and progress throughout their first year of college is something that brings a smile to my face! I strive to help others, and to me that is what being a mentor is all about.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I'm grateful that I will be able to show my family that we can get degrees and that college can be achievable. While I may be the first to go to college I know that I definitely won't be the last. I hope that by being the first of many I can inspire a generation of college graduates in my family.

Ashley Williams [View Image]
Ashley Williams
Health, Physical Education and Exercise Science, Pre-Med, class of 2022

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I enjoy helping those students who may feel lost or confused or have no idea what they are doing. I am excited to be there for my mentees. I can't wait to use what I have learned to make their experience a little less stressful.

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value knowing that I am not alone no matter how confused or lost I feel. I like the challenge of not knowing what to expect because I know that I will be able to figure it out and get where I want to be--which is graduation.

Jasmine Witt [View Image]
Jasmine Witt
Chemistry, class of 2021

What do you enjoy about being a mentor?
I most enjoy being able to connect to other first generation students and guide them so we can help each other be successful. 

What do you value about being a first-gen student?
I value the power that we have to give hope to future generations of minorities to succeed.

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