Breaking the Cycle
When a student becomes the first in their family to go to college, they are set on a trajectory to change both their own life and those of their family members. It can be hard to anticipate personal and financial changes, however, which can be major hurdles to obtaining a degree. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 53% of first-generation students who enroll in college graduate within 10 years. More than half said they dropped out because they could not afford to complete credits.
During his junior year, Bernardo Quevedo ’19, a mechanical engineering major from Palo Alto, was struggling to find time to attend class while working enough hours to pay for his tuition not covered by financial aid. As a member of SCU’s LEAD Scholars Program, which helps first-generation students navigate their college careers, he knew where to find help.
“The Coca-Cola Last Mile Scholarship took so much pressure off,” says Bernardo. “Without it I would have had to work so much and on weekends. I still had to work, but I was able to focus more on my education.” Coca-Cola outlined this scholarship to give supplemental funding to SCU upperclassmen like Bernardo who are on track to complete a degree but must first overcome a financial obstacle or hardship. Thanks to the scholarship money, Bernardo was able to focus on his studies, added a minor in aero-space engineering, and worked as an outreach intern at NASA.
“I love where I come from,” Bernardo says, “but growing up I knew what I was up against. I wanted more out of life than constant struggle. And I knew that getting a degree would help me break that cycle.”