This has been a complicated and confusing year for many of us, and first-year college students are no exception. We caught up with Roman Garcia-Martinez, one of the 2020 Elevations Foundation scholarship recipients to see how he is faring and get his advice for seniors as they prepare to navigate life after high school.
Where are you going to school and what are you studying?
I’m attending the University of San Francisco. I’m double majoring in Sociology and Political Science, and minoring in French.
What led you to apply for an Elevations Foundation scholarship?
Furthering my education has always been my primary focus, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to rely on my family for funds. I knew I would need scholarships. I applied for the Elevations Foundation M. R. Hellie Scholarship because I’m a member of Elevations Credit Union. I heard so many great things about this credit union. I heard that credit unions help you and your community, too. On top of that, I tried to apply only for scholarships that encompass my values, and Elevations shares my values.
How has your transition to college life been?
I am fully remote this year, and it was a little challenging at first. I struggled to find a schedule that worked for me and set up time dedicated to school, work and a social life. One thing I learned was to always prioritize myself and my family over everything else. You can’t pour into other things until you pour into yourself first.
I came in with the idea that everyone was just going to do their studies and not too much else, but so many people want to do more. All these people want to make an impact and give back to their communities.
I wanted to get involved too. I joined the St. Ignatius Institute to help me connect with students on campus on a spiritual level. I wanted to meet nice people, and this organization has helped me build my community even when we can’t physically be on campus. I also joined I Lead, where I virtually collaborate with students all around the world to work on becoming better leaders.
Before the pandemic, I was shy and wouldn’t initiate a conversation with others, I needed to get out and talk to people. I am doing that so much more now.
What has surprised you most about college life?
The perseverance that my university has showed. They are still trying to give us the best education possible in these trying times. I appreciate them trying hard for all of us.
What are you hoping to do when you complete your studies?
I had this idea of becoming a politician before I started school, but now that I am in college, it’s different. I want to go to law school and become an immigration lawyer or environmental lawyer. I can add something to the world that is unique. I feel like I found my voice, and I want to use it and speak up for others.
What advice would you offer to current high school seniors as they prepare for college?
Go with the flow. Do not think that everything is going to go precisely as you planned it. You are going to have to adapt, and college will have a high mental toll. Know your needs and know yourself. Like I said before, prioritize yourself and your family so you can have energy for everything else. Take time for self-care activities.
Elevations Foundation has provided over $500,000 in scholarships since 2010 to support college-bound students in our community. Find out more about Elevations Foundation scholarships and please consider donating to our scholarship program so we may continue making college a reality for promising young people like Roman Garcia-Martinez.