Fernando Cano

Graduating Class: 2018

Major: Biological Sciences

Hometown: Riverside, CA

What motivated you to pursue higher education?

Growing up I saw my parents and siblings do everything they could to help me have a better lifestyle than they did. To make them proud I wanted to be the first in my family to go to college. I did everything I could academically to open the doors for higher education but college was still financially unattainable. My brother told me to do what I’m passionate about and money will follow. Eventually with their guidance and the financial support of the Gates Millennium Scholarship, the opportunity to attend college became accessible.

What would you like to have known coming into your first year of college?

I wish I would have known how fast the quarter system is. The first calculus class I took was 10 weeks and basically covered 1 years’ worth of high school calculus. I was definitely not expecting such a rapid-paced system. However, after better time management, tutoring and studying consistently, I acclimated to the quarter system.

What was a challenge you faced as a first generation college student and how did you overcome it?

Initially I felt lost in the college atmosphere. My family didn’t know anything about college so I didn’t have anyone to turn to for some college tips. Consequently, I struggled academically and with time management. I took a step back and started to analyze my disabilities as a first generation student. I looked for resources that would help turn these weaknesses into strengths. I attended different tutoring programs to improve academically. I also spoke to counselors to find some guidance – to identify tips for success.

What was a resource that helped you navigate UCI?

The Learning and Academic Resource Center (LARC) and Student Success Initiatives (SSI) became the resources I utilized the most to thrive academically. I would recommend individuals to find the resources that work the best for them. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another person. Take a moment to explore the University and its resources. Find what works for you and stay consistent with it. I also went on YouTube to look up additional tutoring videos for calculus and chemistry. Go to office hours for extra support.