After three weeks of video messaging, the First Things First students finally connect with their faculty mentors in real-time. Together, each student-mentor pair discusses a range of topics, including coming to the U.S. for the first time, making the most of available opportunities, finding communities of support and facing challenges head-on. 

Leon and Prof. Kadandale

This week, Leon and her faculty mentor Prof. Kadandale connect via Zoom. During the call, they swap immigration stories, talk about making the most of your opportunities, and much more.

[iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”″]


Gretta and Prof. Casavantes Bradford

This week, Gretta and her faculty mentor Prof. Casavantes Bradford meet face-to-face over Zoom. During their call, they talk about confronting challenges, finding communities of support, and staying true to yourself.

[iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”″]

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.