First-Generation Students Win Scholarship; Share their Remarkable College Journeys - University of Houston
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July 21, 2022

Nine new students will tell their stories, chronicle their college experiences, and offer advice about preparing for college on the blog

Bethesda, Md., Sept. 10, 2015 - Nine first-year college students who beat the odds to become the first in their family to attend college have been awarded Center for Student Opportunity's I'm First! Scholarship, a $4,000 award. Along with 24 previous scholarship winners already in college, these students share their personal stories, chronicle their college experiences, and offer advice to aspiring first-generation college students on

The 9 scholarship winners are:

  • Abraham Vincuna (Houston, TX/ University of Houston)
  • Andrea Haerther (Alamo, TX/ University of Houston)
  • Dave Lacroix (Westbury, NY/ Dartmouth College)
  • Lazarus Valenzuela (Riverside, CA/ Occidental College)
  • Megan Cooke (Window Rock, AZ/ Whitman College)
  • Padah Vang (St. Paul, MN/ Colorado College)
  • Raquel Diaz (Monterey Park, CA/ Reed College)
  • Rolando Perez (San Juan Capistrano, CA/ Pitzer College)
  • Santiago Montoya (Jackson Heights, NY/ Brandeis University)

"Follow these students closely because they are shining examples of how to turn college dreams into reality," said Matt Rubinoff, CSO's Executive Director. "Their blogs continue to inspire thousands of aspiring first-generation college students who visit and help them believe that the opportunity for college is within reach."

It is estimated that 24 percent of students enrolled in post-secondary institutions today are low-income, first-generation college students. Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 will not earn a bachelor's degree by age 24. The drop-out rate of these students is four times the rate of their peers whose parents have a post-secondary education.

High school students and their supporters can follow the blog and use the accompanying web application at to plan for college and research colleges and universities that are committed to supporting first-generation college students on their campuses. Students who sign up will have a chance to apply for the I'm First! Scholarship and become future bloggers when they begin college.