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Student Perspective: First-Generation UCF Student Daniela Garcia

Author: Daniela Garcia, University of Central Florida Student

November 25, 2019

The post below was a speech given by first-generation University of Central Florida student, Daniela Garcia, at the IGNITE Fundraising Campaign Closing Celebration. 

Ignite Closing Celebration Remarks by First-generation UCF Student Daniela Garcia

"I am honored to be here this evening and to have the opportunity to thank you – on behalf of myself, my family - my Abuela Amparo; my mother, Carla, who is in the audience tonight, my father in Colombia, my two brothers - Samuel and Anibal, and my two sisters - Monica and Manuela AND the other 68,000-plus students who attend this great university.

I particularly want to thank you on behalf of the thousands of other first-generation college students who are supported – as I am – by your gifts to fund first-generation scholarships.  

I was born in Bogota, Colombia and emigrated with my mom to the U.S at 3 years old. Growing up, we moved often and there was a lot of financial instability, but school was always a refuge for me, a place to learn and explore new things.

Being a recipient of the first-generation scholarship means that I am not defined by my birth or my circumstances, but instead I have an opportunity to create my future - through the power of education.

This is the hope that individuals like you, and organizations like the Helios Foundation — the donor behind my scholarship — provide for students.

When you give to first generation scholarships, you open a door for me, and my family. As I rise, the future of my family rises with me. As I become the first in my family to attend college and graduate in 2021, I am rewriting the Garcia family history. There will never be another generation in my family that is the first to attend college — because I am here — because you made that possible.

I am majoring in political science, because I am interested in learning about different systems of government and how policies are created. And I see myself continuing a career in higher education. My hope is to one day be the person I needed growing up - a leader who will empower students with knowledge and encourage them to dream beyond their current situations.

When you think about where your money goes, about what you want to give to, I hope you think of me, and all of the students here at UCF – whether we come from here, or from far away – wherever we come from. I hope you think of our families, and their dreams for us.

I hope you think of our dreams
to become teachers – or professors – to study people or governments or space or art, to work with our hands and our brains and our hearts…

… to write books, to tell stories, to paint pictures, to make movies …
… to create, to heal, to build …
… to go wherever our dreams take us.

But we do not go there alone, because we stand on your shoulders and you lift us up … higher than we ever thought we could go.

Thank you." 

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