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Being First: Louis Munoz ’22

Published on 11/24/2020 9:44:34 AM
By Jada Gonzalez '20

In its simplest definition, the word “first” means to come before others. For first-generation students, being first represents more than attending college before their peers. Being first means facing the challenges of higher education by themselves without background knowledge of how the system works. This journey is powerful to students like sophomore Louis Munoz who has his own understanding of being first.
 
“Words to describe my first year would be ‘It’s a bit crazy,’” said Munoz. “The reason behind that choice is because of the ride my freshman year gave me. I come from a family that is anything but well-off. We live from one paycheck to the next, so I was raised to a standard different from many, and coming to college I was shoved into a new culture I was unaware of. It was so much at one time and sometimes too much.”
 
Most first-year students have a hard time asking for help, especially in a new environment; however, first-generation students represent more than just themselves. Facing adversity as a first-generation student can be exhausting because they are driven by what is best for both themselves and the family, friends, and community closest to them.
 
“The main challenge I faced was the difficulty of material at the college level and balancing that with my life outside of school,” said Munoz. “I did have a lot of responsibilities from home that followed me to college, so balancing my academic, social, and home life was difficult.”
 
Munoz soon learned that he did not have to work through these challenges alone. His Hullabaloo U instructor and peer mentor provided support through study halls, workshops, career development opportunities, social activities, and mentoring. Munoz was able to seek guidance and support through Hullabaloo U that gave him a “fighting chance at college.”
 
 “Without the program, I would not have found success both academically and socially. It gave me a chance to learn about the ins and outs of college”
 
Through trial, triumph
“The triumphs I experienced during my freshman year were mostly character development,” said Munoz. “I came in with no knowledge of what it meant to be a college student and in one year I became a more mature version of myself.”
 
Munoz, who served as a Hullabaloo U peer mentor this fall, is paying it forward to the program’s first-year students. He is guiding students and providing them with resources and advice they can use during their undergraduate careers at Texas A&M University.
 
“I would give my freshman self a quote to take to heart: ‘The struggle is part of the story,’” he said. “I use this quote with my students with the intent to remind them that while we can complain we don’t have it easy, it’s better to look at it from this lens: it is hard now, but the journey to get to where we want to be will make it worth it.”
 
About Hullabaloo U
Hullabaloo U is Texas A&M’s first-year experience course designed to help first-year students make a successful transition to campus both academically and personally. Each student walking into a Hullabaloo U course will find a welcoming and affirming environment, a faculty or staff instructor who is committed to your success, a peer mentor to help you navigate the transition experience, and a small community of other first year students. More information.
 
About the Routh First-Generation Center
The Routh First-Generation Center, under the direction of the Office for Student Success, is dedicated to providing support to all first-generation students at Texas A&M University. Support for our students includes programs and advocacy for students as well as coordination, professional development, and advocacy for the faculty and staff that work with them. More information.