Denisa Gandara: First Generation Success Story

The Diverse Face of The University of Texas

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Coming to a large university can be intimidating, but students who link up with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s student services find the tools they need to thrive. As a high achieving first-generation college student, Denisa Gandara became involved in McNair Scholars, one of the programs within DDCE’s Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence. McNair Scholars connects undergraduate students with faculty mentors, allowing them to participate in cutting-edge research.

Denisa plans to leverage her research experience when she begins graduate school in higher education administration. “You learn about things you have never experienced before,” she said. 

The McNair Scholars program and other Academic Diversity Initiatives facilitated by the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence not only provide students with academic opportunities, but also bring together a supportive community of peers and mentors. 

“I’ve met students from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicities – ethnicity, race, gender, everything – and it has just been the most amazing experience for me,” Gandara said.  “You have all these people from these different backgrounds coming together, and you learn about things that maybe you would have never even experienced before.” 

With the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence behind them, students like Denisa are empowered to become great scholars, leaders, and community members.

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