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Alex Boylan: Next we have Daniela Garcia. She’s a first-generation student who’s had a couple bumps in the road on her way to college. College isn’t always seen as a direct path for everyone, but since coming to UCF, this interdisciplinary student has found her way with the help of support services and programs here. Daniela, please take it away.

Daniela Garcia: Thank you, Alex. As a first-generation college student, my goal has always been to make my family proud. I was born in Columbia and raised in New York City, so I’ve always had a passion for cultures, languages, and a desire to learn more about people around the world. That’s why I decided to major in interdisciplinary studies, which allowed me to combine my love for education, Portuguese and political science.

Before moving to Florida for college, I struggled to get into a four-year university in New York. But once I began my studies at Valencia College and learned about the DirectConnect to UCF program, I regained hope that I could earn a bachelor’s degree from a major university. This UCF partnership with six state colleges has provided an affordable path towards college degrees for more than 50,000 students who may not have been able to earn a bachelor’s degree otherwise. When I was accepted at UCF, I was excited to achieve my dream for myself and for my family.

Empowering students from all backgrounds to earn their bachelor degrees and reach for their goals is at the core of what UCF is all about. In fact, the university ranks among the top 75 public universities for social mobility by the US News and World Report. Nearly 19% of UCF student body are first-generation college students just like me, and about half are minorities. With 27.5% being Hispanic, UCF ranks among the nation’s 15% of higher education institutions that are recognized as Hispanic serving institutions. No matter what your background is, affordability is one of the biggest factors when considering college. At UCF, half of the first time in college students graduate without any education debt, which is part of the reason why the university ranks among the nation’s best value colleges.

When I started college, I wasn’t entirely sure about what I wanted to pursue, but once I was given the opportunity to explore my potential, I was able to find the right field for me. Today, I can see how everything I’ve learned has helped me serve international students as a recruitment specialist, and I have UCF to thank for shaping my professional growth. Back to you, Alex.

Alex Boylan: Daniela, gracias. What an inspiring journey. Hearing that UCF gave you the support you needed to achieve your dream is amazing, and I can only imagine how they’ve helped other students. That was fantastic. Take care, Daniela.

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