A DIFFICULT TRANSITION
At the age of 14, Dante and his family immigrated from Mexico to the United States in pursuit of better opportunities.
Dante as a child, at his home in Mexico
"COMING AT A LATER AGE, IT WAS REALLY DIFFICULT TO ADAPT, ESPECIALLY WHEN LEARNING ENGLISH AND TAKING HIGHER EDUCATION COURSES."
A MONUMENTAL MOMENT
While a junior in high school, Dante attends the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan (MEChA) high school conference, which is a high school conference that introduces first-generation and Chincanx students to the critical information and resources to help navigate higher education.
Inspired by what he's learned from MEChA, Dante’s decision to pursue a master’s degree helped him navigate college having additional support, guidance and mentorship.
Students at MEChA's High School Conference gather for a group photo
"IT MADE ME FEEL LIKE I WAS NOT ALONE. THERE IS SUPPORT AND HELP OUT THERE."
TO BUILD A HOME
Dante starts his freshmen year at the University of Utah majoring in Architecture with a minor in Urban Ecology.
He hopes to use his degree to be able to build a home for his family, contribute to affordable housing and green spaces for communities one day.
Design Sketch by Dante
Dante's Student I.D.
"MY PARENTS HAVE GIVEN ME EVERYTHING THEY CAN. I WANT TO GIVE SOMETHING BACK TO THEM."
PAYING IT FORWARD
As a sophomore, Dante joins MEChA's leadership team. He works hard to be able to provide high school students the same resources, guidance, and encouragement that inspired him to go to college when he was younger. He is enthusiastic to continue supporting future conferences.
Dante volunteering at MEChA's
High School Conference
THEN COVID-19 HIT.
AN UNEXPECTED ROADBLOCK
As the Covid-19 pandemic hits, Dante and his team on MECHA scramble to adapt to sudden changes in their education, housing, finances, and health. Because the organizers cannot afford the time nor resources to the event, Dante's MEChA chapter will not be able to host their annual high school conference.
REACHING MARGINALIZED GROUPS
Without the MEChA high school conference, dozens of potential students that would have attended aren't able to access vital information and resources, negatively impacting and discouraging incoming students to pursue higher education.
Across the nation, high schoolers and recent graduates struggle with ineffective communication from their institutions.
Dante poses with fellow volunteers at MEChA's High School Conference
A SHARED CHALLENGE
SEE THE DATA
HOPING FOR THE BEST
Dante starts the semester, worrying about his ability to afford housing, the quality of his classes, and the disconnection to the community he had gotten so close to on campus.
TO BE CONTINUED
Returning to college right now is difficult enough for returning students, but for incoming and first-gen students in particular, this Fall semester includes even more hurdles and challenges.
Decisionmakers must ensure that adequate information, resources, and support is being given to high school graduates and incoming freshmen, with additional attention to first-generation and underrepresented students.
Making the right decisions to support students now can shape a more equitable higher landscape for years to come.