Monday, May 4, 2020

Graduate Profile: Rodrigo Galvez Vega

A first-generation college student can’t rely on family advice for navigating school. Rodrigo Galvez Vega came to Vol State from Lebanon High School and didn’t know what to expect.

“The first semester was pretty rough- figuring out the work and school flow. But after that I got the hang of it. I started to explore with my other classes.”

His primary focus was accounting. He knew it would be a good career, but it wasn’t until college that he began to understand the profession. “I like analyzing a situation and adapting to maximize my strengths and opportunities. I want to find ways to do things better. I had no idea that accounting was like that.”

Galvez Vega served as a President’s Ambassador. It’s a competitive scholarship program with dozens of applicants and several rounds of interviews. The Ambassadors represent Vol State at many events and share their student stories. “It was pretty fun to be with a bunch of people who work as a team. I also liked working with the donors. You can see how much they care about the students at Vol State.”

Rodrigo did face an additional challenge that makes his graduation especially significant. He is enrolled in the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The Federal immigration policy means that he has paid out-of-state tuition for his Vol State education. That is thousands of dollars a semester more than an in-state student would pay.

“I’ve been here for twenty years. I look at my friends and there is not much a difference between us. They only difference is my documentation. Most of the time I work even harder. It isn’t fair that someone who works that hard should be denied that opportunity.”

Graduation is a big achievement for any student, but especially a first-generation college student. “It feels pretty cool. Realizing that I’m the first in my family to graduate college is an honor.”

He will be sharing that experience with his family with a video message in the virtual ceremony. “My mother said she is nervous. My whole family will be in the video.”

Rodrigo plans on transferring to Western Kentucky University to pursue a bachelor's degree in accounting.

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