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UCI’s First Generation: First Things First Web Series

UCI’s First Generation Program, which aims to help first generation students have a smoother transition into UCI, started an interview series featuring two first generation students and two first generation faculty members this fall quarter. The series will be available for the entire 2020-21 school year. 

The two first generation students are Leon Masuda, a first year mathematics student, and Gretta Gabriela Ozuna Rivera, a first year biological sciences student. 

The two first generation faculty members featured are biochemistry and molecular biology professor Pavan Kadandale and history and Chicano/Latino studies associate professor Anita Casavantes Bradford. 

Student Success Initiatives Executive Director Kevin Huie spoke on the idea surrounding this series. 

“A few staff and faculty from the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning met to talk about how we might put together a series of interviews with faculty and students, and as ideas were discussed, this idea of having the First Gen First format with mentors and mentees emerged,” Huie said. 

Each week, Masuda and Rivera are asked a question about their experiences or difficulties they are facing as first generation students. From these questions, Kadandale and Bradford respond with their suggestions or experiences that relate. 

The questions asked during the week nine update were “What UCI resources have you used?” and “What advice do you have for new students?” 

Masuda discussed how she has been using services like LARC and the TRIO Scholars Program. She mentioned how she has a system to keep track of assignments and deadlines. Kadandale, her mentor, endorsed her method of taking studying into one’s own hands.

Rivera, like Masuda, has been using resources like LARC. She advised students to be proactive in finding resources. Rivera’s mentor Bradford added that students should remember to give themselves credit for the work they’ve accomplished. 

Huie spoke on the importance of this series as a way to facilitate conversation among first generation students and faculty. 

“I hope it can provide others with an idea of how faculty mentorship can be helpful and impactful for students, in particular those who have a common identity in being the first to go to college in their family,” Huie said. 

The first generation program plans to continue this series each year. 

“If all goes well, we will continue to do this indefinitely with the hopes of featuring other students and faculty in the future. My hope is to involve more than two faculty and two students each year,” Huie said. 

Ashley Shah is a Staff Writer. She can be reached at