Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Silvana Velasquez

Silvana Velasquez

Name: Silvana Velasquez

Hometown: Santiago, Chile

Role on campus: Analyst/programmer in Institutional Research

Years on campus: 1 year, 5 months

Did you or do you have plans to continue your education beyond a four-year degree? Yes

Why did you choose Chico? My best friends live here. Great community, people, and quality of life.

What first sparked your interest in a college education? My parents. As they did not have the opportunity to follow their dreams of a college education, they always motivated me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. They worked very hard so that I could have the best education while I was growing up in Chile.

What were some barriers that prevented others in your family from completing a four-year degree? Financial obstacles. After my father and mother graduated from high school, their families expected them to go to work to help support their siblings. Without parental or family help it was practically impossible to get a college education in those days.

Who can you point to as a mentor or inspiration in your pursuit of a four-year degree and why? My father. I came to the United States on a tennis scholarship to pursue a college education. My father would have never been able to afford a college education in this country for me. Once he realized that through tennis I would have this opportunity, he encouraged me and taught me that no matter the obstacles along the way, to keep believing in myself and to trust that anything is possible when we dream big.

What does being first-gen mean to you? Being a first-gen graduate gives me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment and pride. I left my country and family in pursue of my dreams. I had to overcome many obstacles along the way to graduate.

What challenges do you struggle with or have you overcome as a result of being first gen? I had to overcome many challenges as part of choosing a college education. The biggest one was to leave my family to come to this country. After I landed in Dallas, I realized I really did not really speak or understand English as well as I thought I while I was studying in Chile. I had to persevere through every class to learn English so that I could pass the courses and make new friends here.

What is your wildest ambition? I am living it right now. After many years in the technology industry, having a great career, enjoying lots of traveling, and seeing new cultures, I finally made the move to Chico to enjoy life with friends. I have found in CSU, Chico a community where I can now share my professional knowledge and give back all I have learned along the way. I am living now the life style I had wanted for so long.

What message do you want to send other first-gen students? Believe in yourself. You are strong. Trust that no matter how big the obstacles may be along the way, it is all very, very worth it.