Editor’s Note — This is part of a weekly student conversation series highlighted as part of Hispanic Heritage Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature students who are making impacts on campus and beyond. This week, hear from Kaylee Donjuan Mendoza, an international business major with minors in Spanish and business analytics from Crete, Nebraska. Throughout college, Donjuan Mendoza has pushed herself and gotten involved in the communities around her. Now, through her passion for mentorship, she’s helping others do the same.
Talk a bit about your experience as a first-generation college student.
The journey as a first-generation student has not been easy. I am constantly coming across many “firsts” that have eventually become a part of my daily life. However, each “first” carries a deep value that serves as a reminder as to why I’m here and why I’m studying. During my first year, I was lost and didn’t have much guidance as to what was available to me on campus. As I started to get more involved, I gradually found my community.
This summer, you served as a DREAMBIG Academy mentor. What was your takeaway from the experience?
As someone who is a first-generation student and comes from a minority background, everything is all about firsts. The DREAMBIG Academy provides an excellent opportunity for high school students to take their first step in business work and pursue a career in business.
You’re also involved in Teammates+ Mentoring. Is mentorship a passion of yours and if so, where did it stem and why are you passionate about it?
I will forever be thankful to be a part of the Teammates Mentoring Program. Ever since joining the program in middle school, I’ve enjoyed all the time I have spent with my mentor and the advice she has provided me with. Her guidance meant a lot to me because as many first-generation students know, we have to learn everything on our own. As time went on, I developed a passion to help younger students from all backgrounds embrace who they are and continue to work on their goals
You have a variety of involvements across campus, from Emerging Leaders to Delta Xi Nu. How important was being involved for you and how has being involved impacted your college experience?
Throughout high school, I was involved in many activities and organizations, and I wanted to continue expanding my involvement in college. By being involved, I have made countless connections and developed new skills that will help me in the near future. Additionally, my involvement on campus has led me to accomplish goals I have set for myself.
What is your advice to other students looking to make an impact on campus?
Students who want to get involved within their community and campus should definitely attend any events or meetings of organizations that they are wanting to join. Be flexible and take part in any volunteering when possible. Lastly, students should keep expanding their network because with connections you’ll be able to come across more opportunities to help others.