In this week’s First Things First video exchanges, first-gen students Leon and Gretta answer the question “What’s Been New or Different for You as a University Student?” Their faculty mentors, Prof. Kadandale and Prof. Casavantes Bradford, reflect on their own experiences and offer advice.

Leon Masuda

In this week’s First Things First video, Leon discusses what it’s like to branch out, live alone for the first time and get her first taste of a college experience. She also talks about the helpful services she’s been leveraging, such as LARC Tutoring ( and the TRIO Scholars ( peer tutoring program.

Professor Kadandale Responds to Leon 

Responding to Leon’s video, Prof. Kadandale applauds her for being proactive and making use of the many resources that UCI has to offer. He also recalls how it took him a long time to leverage tools and services as an immigrant student because he didn’t want to give the wrong impression of himself. He ends by encouraging first-gen students to seek out and explore all the opportunities available at UCI.

[iframe width=”560″ height=”315″

Gretta Ozuna 

In this week’s First Things First video, Gretta discusses how her idea of learning has changed as a college student. She also talks about how she has embraced independent study and found new ways to “own” the learning process.

Professor Casavantes Bradford Responds to Gretta

Professor Casavantes Bradford responds to Gretta and commends her for being “intrinsically” motivated when it comes to learning and making the most of her time at UCI. She also encourages Gretta to remember her goals and to draw on support from the UCI community to keep herself going when things get difficult.

[iframe width=”560″ height=”315″

The First Things First project is an evolution of UCI’s First-Generation Faculty Initiative, designed to help first-gen students overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic. This new “virtual” mentorship program pairs two incoming UCI first-gen students with first-gen faculty members for a year-long, social-media-distributed conversation about the transition to university life. The goal of First Things First is to help UCI’s entire first-gen population, as well as first-gen students throughout higher education, build a sense of community—even in this remote college environment. To further this project, we invite you to share this article on your social media channels and with your network.