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First Generation Constantin Scholars

Ensuring First-Generation College Students Thrive

The Constantin Scholars Program at UD welcomes and supports Texas students who will be the first in their families to complete a Bachelor’s Degree. Through scholarships and special programming, we recognize the wide-ranging impact that Constantin Scholars have on the lives of their peers — and generations of students in Texas.

The Constantin Foundation grant supports first-generation students at UD and provides funding to the Constantin Scholars Bridge Program, which accepted its first cohort of DFW-area UD freshmen over summer 2020. 

“The Constantin Foundation has continued to be one of our most significant supporters,” said President Thomas S. Hibbs, Ph.D., BA '82 MA '83. “We are grateful for the extraordinary generosity the foundation has provided us.”

With this recent grant, UD continues to bolster its support of incoming first-generation students.

Here’s a glimpse of some of our inaugural cohort students as they embark upon their first-semester journey at UD:

Juanita Acosta

Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Interests: Psychology and pre-med; theology and philosophy; asking big questions surrounding metaphysics; engaging in civil discourse with peers and fellow classmates; Korean pop music.

Born and raised in Dallas, Juanita Acosta is passionate about baking, trying new recipes, painting and reading. Her high school activities included Future Health Professionals, student council (serving as president her junior and senior years), the Dallas Teen Board and a K-pop club. Juanita chose UD because of its commitment to excellent education, its small size, the Core Curriculum and the atmosphere. She hopes to receive a degree in psychology on the pre-med track and become a physician assistant, and she believes that learning how to discuss and form a logical argument civilly will help in both her professional and personal lives. 


Aisha Ramos

Hometown: Irving, Texas
Interests: Drawing, sketching and painting; biology and engineering; celebrating and learning new traditions; engaging in academic debate; writing and reading literature.

A native of Irving, Aisha Ramos enjoys reading, drawing, sketching and painting. In high school, she was part of the debate team, writing team and craft club. She chose UD because of the focus on classical education and critical thinking; she is looking forward to UD’s traditions, especially Charity Week, as well as the Core Curriculum’'s emphasis on literature. She is planning to major in biology with a concentration on pre-engineering. As a first-generation student, she is excited and feels like she is establishing something for her family. “If I can do this, then my siblings can do it too," she said.

Blessing Okereke

Hometown: Plano, Texas
Learning new languages; arts and crafts; biology and business; cultivating personal relationships and meeting new people; medicine.

Blessing Okereke grew up in Nigeria before moving to the U.S. with her family. Already bilingual, she is passionate about languages and is now learning Spanish and Korean. Blessing enjoys arts and crafts and was involved in the International and Unity Clubs in high school. She plans to major in biology with concentrations in business and Spanish. At UD, along with the incredible education, she hopes to make connections and memorable friendships and someday become a physician assistant. “A first-generation student is often more thankful for the opportunity to attend a higher education institution, especially in the U.S.,” she said. “Also, I genuinely have a blank slate; I can only grow and go up from here.”

Martha Raborg

Hometown: Richardson, Texas
Drawing, theater, speech and debate; playing the violin; critical thinking; engaging in civil discourse with peers both in and outside the classroom; fostering lifelong friendships.

Born and raised in Dallas, Martha Raborg expresses her creativity through drawing, music, theater, speech and creating digital and 2D art. In high school, she played the violin and participated in speech and debate. Martha plans to study business and maybe economics/finance; she would like to minor in Spanish, though she is already fluent, with a focus on grammar, and hopes to later enter a master's program to study international business. At UD, she hopes to find a sense of community and enjoys the culture of discussing academics outside the classroom, leading to fellowship and the creation of lifelong friendships. “Being a first-generation college student is intimidating but will make me more independent,” she said.

Bryan Velazquez

Hometown: Coppell, Texas
Performing in choir; psychology and medicine; making new friends; spending time with his brother and the rest of his family; pioneering the way and setting a positive example for others.

Bryan Velazquez grew up in Garden Grove, California. In high school, he was a member of Future Health Professionals and choir. Bryan would like to major in psychology with a pre-med track; he is looking forward to making new friends and meeting new people. “As a first-generation student, I feel like I’m leading the way for others, especially my brother, who’s currently navigating high school,” he said. “I’m so thankful for the experience of UD.”

Christian De Leon

Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Playing soccer and music (guitar) with friends; automotive photography; business; embracing new and unique educational experiences.

Born and raised in Dallas, Christian De Leon is excited to participate in the business program at UD, where he hopes to grow as a person, meet new people, learn what he is passionate about and gain the tools and skills he needs to succeed. He looks forward to UD’s unique educational experience. While the university's faith aspect is not the main reason he chose UD, he does see it as a positive.   

Anahi De Los Reyes Viesca

Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Volunteering at summer camp, the North Texas Food Bank and the Genesis Women’s Shelter; participating in friendly debates with peers; playing soccer, running cross country and performing in theater; biology, medicine and caring for others.

Born and raised in Dallas, Anahi De Los Reyes Viesca enjoys helping others by volunteering at a summer camp, the North Texas Food Bank and the Genesis Women's Shelter. In high school, she participated on the debate team and in theater, soccer and cross country. At UD, she looks forward to exploring new interests and meeting new people. Anahi hopes to study biology and later pursue a nursing degree. She believes that UD will help prepare her for the health field.

Rosalinda Rodarte

Hometown: Grand Prairie, Texas
Running a small apparel and accessories business, Indio’s Wild Style, which she launched in April with help from some friends; horseback riding; drawing and spending time with her brother; science and medicine.

Rosalinda Rodarte grew up in Grand Prairie, Texas. She enjoys horseback riding and drawing, and she runs a small apparel and accessory business, Indio's Wild Style. In high school, she participated in the student council and the early college high school program. At UD, she hopes to major in nursing with a business concentration. “I’m excited to express ideas and ideals without fearing the backlash and am happy to reconnect with and focus on my faith,” she said. “As a first-generation student, I’m experiencing something completely different from the rest of my family. I have the opportunity to teach and guide my brother, and my parents can become educated with me.”

Annette Herrera

Hometown: Seagoville, Texas
Expressing and expounding on her Catholic identity; creating DIY art projects; baking and cooking; volunteering in local hospitals and interning at UT Southwestern; biology and medicine; learning Italian; establishing new friendships; writing and literature.

Born and raised in Dallas, Annette Herrera enjoys art, baking and cooking. In high school, she participated in Green Club and the school senate, volunteered at hospitals and interned at UT Southwestern. Annette chose UD for its Catholic identity and hopes that it will help her grow in her faith. She is also excited about the focus on literature through the Core, though she plans to major in biology with an Italian concentration, while creating remarkable friendships and challenging herself to become a better person. “I believe my Hispanic first-generation status is an incredible opportunity to prove people wrong about the assumptions they make,” she said. “I can show people that with the right amount of effort and determination, you can do it.” 

Elias Cervera

Hometown: Venus, TX
Playing music, especially percussion instruments in band; powerlifting and playing sports; expressing his Catholic faith; business and philosophy; engaging peers in thoughtful discussions and always thinking of the bigger picture.

Elias Cervera enjoys music, especially percussion, powerlifting and sports (he played football for seven years and soccer for four). In high school, he was the debate team captain and a band member, as well as placing fourth out of 30 teams in mock trial. At UD, Ellias plans to major in business and hopes to create a healthy and robust social life. He intends to attend law school after graduation, focusing on corporate law. “As a first-generation student, sometimes it can feel like a disadvantage because my parents don't have the background or the first-hand experience attending a university, but the advantages are that first-generation students can set their expectations for themselves, which motivates us,” he said.

David Israel

Hometown: Cedar Hill, TX
Playing on the tennis team and performing in orchestra; engaging peers in student council; psychology, especially as it relates to bettering one’s mental health; making new friends and engaging in new experiences.

David Israel enjoys playing video games and learning about how human beings work. In high school, he was a part of the tennis team, orchestra and student council. At UD, David hopes to study psychology and looks forward to making a good group of friends and emerging from his shell. He hopes to later pursue a master's degree in psychology in order to understand mental health and help people get through difficult times, ultimately becoming a psychotherapist. “I’m proud to be a first-generation student because I can accomplish something no one else in my family has done before,” he said.

Francisco Rios

Hometown: Irving, Texas
Playing basketball and Xbox with friends; performing in band and playing the flute; studying academics as a member of the National Honor Society; volunteering at the local animal shelter and running around with his dogs; studying medicine and spending time with his parents.

Born and raised in Irving, Francisco Rios enjoys playing basketball and XBox and hanging out with dogs. In high school, he played the flute in band, was a member of the National Honor Society and volunteered at an animal shelter. Francisco hopes to pursue the pre-veterinary and pre-medicine tracks, going on to veterinary school after graduation. He is looking forward to making good friends and hopes that his education at UD will assist him with language and grammar, providing opportunities for internships. “I’m excited to make my parents proud through my education,” he said.

Summer Bridge Program Luncheon