To commemorate the year-long First Things First virtual mentorship project, our first-gen students and their faculty mentors sit down for their final conversations. Together, each pair reflects on the school year and looks forward to the return of in-person instruction at UCI.

Professor Anita Casavantes Bradford and Gretta Ozuna

 In their final installment of the First Things First project, Gretta Ozuna and Professor Anita Casavantes Bradford meet over Zoom to reflect on the academic year, discuss how they are preparing for the Fall, and share the impact of being involved in this mentorship project.

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Professor Pavan Kadandale and Leon Masuda

In a fun surprise, Leon Masuda and her mentor Professor Kadandale meet in-person to record their final First Things First video! Their conversation covers lessons learned during the pandemic, the benefits of participating in this virtual mentorship program, and candid advice that students are unlikely to receive anywhere else.

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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.