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HOLA alumna and senior at Whitman College in Washington Maricela Sanchez-Garcia is grateful that college has provided her a strong support network that includes professors who continue to challenge her in critical thinking.

As a first-generation, working class (FGWC) college student, Maricela has had to face other challenges that aren’t necessarily academically based. One in particular, that many HOLA alumni experience at liberal arts colleges, is being surrounded by peers who come from privileged backgrounds.

“Sometimes these individuals aren’t always aware about systemic issues. This may cause some frustration but I think one shouldn’t get discouraged. Times are changing, policies are changing and people are organizing and uniting, so I think whoever plans to apply to Whitman should keep this in mind.”

The political science major, who is also minoring in art, applauds Whitman’s administration for taking concrete steps to provide more support to FGWC students.

“There is now a summer fly-in orientation program exclusively for FGWC students. I founded a mentorship program that pairs incoming first years with upper-class students. However, my colleague has added an additional component and now there are staff and faculty mentors in the equation. Some change I’d like to see is having additional introductory basic courses to current intro classes. In other words, instead of math starting at calculus, there should be a pre-calculus class. I’d like to see more students take classes without having the course fees deter them.”

Maricela also believes her work-study juggling act is another FGWC symptom, however, she seems to be well ahead of that game. Managing her schedule with classes, a job, and extra-curriculars, the soon-to-be college grad also makes time to volunteer as a tutor for kids in her community.

Since her new community is something she had to find, she continues to work hard in order to keep it.


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