In the final First Things First update of Winter Quarter 2021, our first-gen students and their faculty mentors finally come together for a group discussion over Zoom. This time, the tables have turned with students Gretta Ozuna and Leon Masuda posing questions for Professors Casavantes Bradford and Kadandale to answer. Watch as the four discuss pursuing a career in academia, the rapid transition to an online college environment, and how the first-generation community can find support on campus.

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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.