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September 28, 2022

Student Challenges Herself and Mentors Others Amid Many 'Firsts'

University Features Student Leaders Making an Impact on Campus
Student Challenges Herself and Mentors Others Amid Many 'Firsts'
Kaylee Donjuan Mendoza, a sophomore international business major from Crete, Nebraska, shares her experiences as a first-generation college student and a mentor.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, Nebraska Today featured Huskers like Kaylee Donjuan Mendoza who are making an impact on campus. Donjuan Mendoza is a sophomore international business major with minors in Spanish and business analytics from Crete, Nebraska. Throughout college, she has pushed herself and gotten involved in the communities around her. Now, through her passion for mentorship, she’s helping others do the same.

Talk about your experience as a first-generation college student.
The journey as a first-generation student has not been easy. I am constantly coming across many 'firsts' that have eventually become a part of my daily life. However, each 'first' carries a deep value that serves as a reminder as to why I’m here and why I’m studying. During my first year I felt lost and didn’t have much guidance as to what was available to me on campus. As I started to get more involved, I gradually found my community.

This summer, you served as a DREAMBIG Academy mentor. What was your takeaway from the experience?
As someone who is a first-generation student and comes from a minority background, everything is all about firsts. The DREAMBIG Academy provides an excellent opportunity for high school students to take their first step in business work and pursue a career in business.

You’re also involved in Teammates+ Mentoring. Is mentorship a passion of yours, and if so, why?
I will forever be thankful to be a part of the Teammates Mentoring Program. Ever since joining the program in middle school, I’ve enjoyed all the time I have spent with my mentor and the advice she provided me. Her guidance meant a lot to me because as first-generation students, we have to learn everything on our own. As time went on, I developed a passion to help younger students from all backgrounds embrace who they are and continue to work on their goals.

How important was being involved for you and how has that impacted your college experience?
Throughout high school, I was involved in many activities and organizations, and I wanted to continue expanding my involvement in college. By being involved, I have made countless connections and developed new skills that will help me in the near future. Additionally, my involvement on campus led me to accomplish goals I have set for myself.

What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?
Students who want to get involved within their community and campus should definitely attend any events or meetings of organizations they want to join. Be flexible and take part in any volunteering when possible. Lastly, students should keep expanding their network because, with connections, you’ll be able to come across more opportunities to help others.