First-Generation Peer Mentors - University of Dallas

First-Generation Peer Mentors - University of Dallas

2023-2024 First-Generation Peer Mentors

Study Hall Mentors

Nailea Silva

Nailea is a junior majoring in Biology from Brownsville, Texas. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school for physical therapy. Her advice for first-gen students is to meet with their professors to build connections, receive feedback, expand their network, receive letters of recommendation, and obtain opportunities.

Monique Bedolla

Monique is a Biology major with an environmental science concentration from Laredo, Texas. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue graduate school for Marine Biology. Her advice to fellow first-gen students is to not fear asking for help. She says, "My goal as a peer mentor is to help other first generation students overcome the same obstacles I did."

Karla Espinoza

Karla is a Business major with a double concentration in Italian and Ethics from San Antonio, Texas. After graduation, she plans to work within the Human Resources department in a corporation or in a non-profit. Her advice for first-generation students is to fully enjoy their college experience including TGIT, Rome, and on campus lectures. Karla says, “it’s so important to plan movie nights, go to TGIT, and study away from your dorm to fully immerse and enjoy your new home for the next four years.”

Jacquelinne Torres

Jacquelinne is currently pursuing a degree in business and is set to graduate in 2024. Alongside her undergraduate studies, Jacquelinne is also working towards an MBA in marketing. Her advice to fellow first-generation students is simple yet powerful: stay focused on the end goal of graduation, and make the most of the opportunities earned through hard work. Before leaving California, Jacquelinne's grandmother, who only spoke Spanish, shared a heartfelt message. She emphasized the word "valor," meaning worth or courage. This conversation, sadly, turned out to be their final meeting. Her grandmother stressed that Jacquelinne's journey was worth all the sacrifices made by their family. It's a message Jacquelinne carries with her, a reminder of her own worth and the sacrifices that led her to where she is today.

First-Gen Roundtable Mentors

Janicia Gonzalez

Janicia is a junior Psychology major with a business concentration from Midlothian, TX. Upon completing her education she aspires to work with children with her psychology degree and open her own practice. Her advice to fellow first-generation students would be to truly take advantage of all of the resources that are provided for them like reaching out to first-gen professors, attending tutoring, or even going to events and talks on campus. There are so many resources being given that are not being taken advantage of by many students.

Gianella Flores

Gianella is a Psychology and Business double major from Arlington, TX. She hopes to pursue her Master’s at UD upon graduation. Her advice to fellow first-gen students is that "it is okay to feel confused and scared when first entering college as a first generation, but eventually you find to really enjoy it when you immerse yourself into the experience." A super fun fact about Gia is that she actually has a twin brother!

Linda Ramos

Linda is majoring in Business. After UD, she plans to go into real estate and then own a Mexican restaurant. Her hometown is in Carrollton Texas. Linda says that college will have its ups and down, but it will teach you so many things in different ways. She advises first-gen students to be open minded, so they can grow as a student and as a person. :)

Laura Gaitan

Laura is from Dallas, Texas. She is pursuing a degree in business and a concentration in studio art. After graduating, she plans to go to graduate school. Laura advises first-generation students to believe in themselves! She says that first-gen students have worked hard to be here and should feel like they belong on campus.  

Alumni Connection Mentor

Melissa Gabino Benitez

Melissa is a business major from Elgin, Texas. Her plans for the future is to open a small, local shop in light of the beauty industry. A piece of advice she gives to first-generation students is to seek advice from seniors or juniors at UD, reach out to professors during their office hours for additional assistance, and join clubs and organizations or UD sports for an opportunity to make new friends and try new things outside their comfort zone.

Marketing Team

Saraih Mendoza

Saraih is pursuing a Business and Spanish degree and plans to go to graduate school. She is a peer-mentor because she loves to help, advise, and guide other students to success. Saraih wants to make sure that all incoming students feel welcomed at the University of Dallas and First Generation family. Her advice to new students is to make friends, ask questions, look for resources, make a study plan, read all the core readings, join clubs, be part of UD’s community, and learn from your mistakes. She wants all students to know that UD’s core curriculum makes a person understand the purpose of human existence in order to follow and understand one’s right path in their professional and personal life. Saraih feels proud of being a First Generation Student and believes all First-Gen Students should be.

Grecia Grajeda

Grecia Grajeda is a Spanish and Business major from Hidalgo, Texas. After graduation, Grecia plans to go to graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in Accounting. Her piece of advice to first-gen college students is, "never be discouraged to try anything, especially if its your passion."

Areli Mejia

Areli is a Spanish and Business major from Duncanville, Texas. After graduating from UD, she plans to attend graduate school. She encourages first-gen students to not be afraid to ask for help. Within the first-generation community and outside of it, there are many people who want to help you and see you succeed.

Community Builder

Pike Matthews

Pike is from Grapevine, Texas. He is a sophomore biochemistry major studying to become a nuclear pharmacist. Pike's major is a mixture of both biology and chemistry with which it has a focus on the chemical processes that go on in the body and how it affects the human body. One piece of advice that Pike has for first-generation students is this, "you need a healthy balance between studying and having fun as college plays a big part in molding you into an adult."