– Nestor Hernandez –
My parents came here from El Salvador and never really had the opportunity to go to college. They work hard, and growing up, watching them put so much effort into supporting me and my future, I felt like going to college and having the opportunities they didn’t have was the best way I could pay them back.
I found out about the First Husker Program—which helps first-generation college students—while I was still in high school and knew I wanted to do it. You get to come to campus a few days before everyone else and the program teaches you about study methods, campus resources and all that. The First Husker Program helped me understand things that happened my first semester since my parents don’t fully get what’s going on. I also got set up with the First-Year Experience and Transition Program, so I have a mentor I can go to for help.
THE FIRST PERSON
The first time I met with my mentor, Laurie, I was pretty nervous. I didn’t really know what to expect. I talked to her about the background I was coming from and my interests. She was really helpful in advising me on classes and figuring out a plan for my future. Working with an academic coach isn’t only for people who are struggling or who get bad grades. I made Dean’s List my first semester and I wasn’t even getting academic help from Laurie—I would just ask her about general stuff. Everyone can use some guidance in college.
I came in as business major but I didn’t have a lot of class options available in high school, so my first semester I took classes like creative writing and archeology. I took in a couple pieces of my creative writing to a meeting with Laurie and she really liked it. I didn’t know I’d be good at it—but I was, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t even know you could make a career out of writing, but Laurie was really encouraging.
When I started taking accounting classes for my major and didn’t really like them, I talked with my mentor about potentially switching majors. The whole process was kind of challenging. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I really wanted to do. She would ask me questions, like what makes me happy and “If money weren’t an object, what would you want to do for the rest of your life?” I told her I just want to help people. And that’s what it really came down to. I want to do something that I can work one-on-one with people and help them. I’m still not sure what I want to change my major to but she’s helping me work toward figuring it out.
The first person I went to for everything was Laurie. I knew she would focus on my best interests first before I would make a move on anything. I would send her a lot of emails and I met up with her a couple times. It’s really beneficial to have a coach there because she expressed care for me. That’s what I felt was the most beneficial part of it—she cared for my future.
GUIDE TO SUCCESS
When you’re working with an academic coach, I think you have to talk about yourself a little bit and then they’ll get to know you. Then, from there, they’ll guide you in whatever you want to do. She helped me with a lot of basic things too, like showing me the stacks in the library and the Study Stops where you can go get tutoring and coffee. The program really helped me with time management. They gave me a whole binder of stuff on how to study and had workshops on how to take notes—stuff I wouldn’t have thought about. Laurie even helped me plan out my weekly schedule and organize when I have class, when I work and when I can study.
When I realized I didn’t like what I was majoring in, I was really scared. But I’m in the process of changing and they’re here to guide me, to help me get my degree and eventually get a job that I’ll love.