First-generation college student, entrepreneur

December 18, 2015

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Learn Boldly: Araceli Razo ’15

Researching and applying to colleges is a big decision for young people and their families. Most students rely on the help and guidance of their parents. But many first-generation college students often find themselves in an unfamiliar world. Araceli Razo ’15 wants to change that. The social entrepreneurship major wants to use her own experiences and challenges to help make the college application process easier for other young Latinas.

“I’m the first person in my family to attend college, including all of my extended family,” Razo said. “My parents came here from Mexico so that we could have a better life and they really only expected my sisters and me to graduate from high school. But I always knew I wanted to go to college.”

After finishing high school in Austin, Razo took a gap year, or time off from school between high school graduation and going to college. She used that time to become more familiar with the application process, as well as all of the financial aid forms she needed to fill out.

“It was really difficult to navigate my way through it all,” Razo said. “I didn’t know what FAFSA was or how to fill it out and my parents couldn’t help me because they were unfamiliar with it all, too. When I told my parents I had plans to go to college, my mom was pretty hesitant about it at first. It wasn’t that they didn’t think I could do it or didn’t want me to go, it was more that in the Hispanic culture, we’re so close with our families and my mom didn’t want me to move away.”

Razo said her parents saw how beneficial a college education would be for her and eventually supported her decision. She applied to Texas Lutheran University, got accepted, and moved to Seguin. After exploring a few different majors and whether or not they were a fit for her, Razo looked into the social entrepreneurship program. It was after meeting with the program director, Professor Judy Hoffmann, that she realized it was exactly what she wanted to do.

“The major is the perfect mix of business courses and liberal arts education,” Razo said. “The best part of the program is that it teaches you how to start your own business that supports a social cause you truly care about. For our senior seminar presentations, we had to create a plan of our own idea for a nonprofit or for-profit business, and I immediately knew I wanted to propose a company that helped first-generation students with the college application and acceptance process. There are so many stories just like mine and I want to be able to guide and counsel other young people and their parents through it so they don’t have the same challenges I did.”

Razo has been accepted into the graduate program at Texas State University in San Marcos where she plans to specialize in adult education and interdisciplinary studies.

“I want to eventually realize my business idea, Razo said. “So by continuing my education, I can have the right credentials to effectively communicate with students and their parents. My TLU education prepared me for graduate school and academics are valued so much here. I had an amazing experience in the social entrepreneurship program and with my professors who always supported me. I had a lot of expectations when I left home and came to the TLU campus and I can say they were all exceeded.”

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