First-Gen Loper: UNK resources allow Estefano Paez to grow personally, professionally

Grade: Sophomore
Hometown: Columbus
Major: Business administration with minors in entrepreneurship and marketing/management

What does it mean to you to be a first-generation college student?
To me it means taking the first step toward a brighter future that comes with unforeseen risks, stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something that has not been done before by your family. First-gen students know they will be able to grow as individuals and also contribute to their communities.

Why is a college education important to you?
I believe a college education is important no matter what you do in life. Gaining knowledge will always allow you to expand your understanding and make better decisions in life.

Why did you choose UNK?
I decided on UNK because it provided me with a welcoming environment, especially from the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). It just felt right, with it being a smaller campus, and everyone seemed friendly. I also chose UNK because it’s an affordable college that has great resources.

Tell me about your involvement here:
Many people would say I’m very involved on campus. I’m part of all five organizations within ODI, which include the Hispanic Student Association, Black Student Association, Women Are Problematic, Global Student Association and PRISM. Outside of ODI, I’m involved in First Gen Lopers, TRIO Student Support Services, Residence Life and NEXT. I try my best to be able to attend these meetings and activities as much as I can.

What are your thoughts on the support first-gen students receive at UNK?
The support here on campus is really what has gotten me through some hard times. It has also provided me with many opportunities that I would have otherwise not known about. This gave me a chance to grow in my personal life and also my professional life.

What’s your career/professional goal?
After graduating from UNK, I want to work with a leading business in real estate. Once I understand the field better, I plan to start my own business.

What advice do you have for other first-gen students?
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, because sometimes a simple conversation can put you on the right path to be successful.