First-Gen student Grajeda uses Buffett, Gilman scholarships to inspire others

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First-Gen student Grajeda uses Buffett, Gilman scholarships to inspire others

Grajeda holds a sign that reads, "I'm a Husker & Paving the Way for First-Gen Students."
Grajeda, senior International Business major

Senior Anibal Grajeda vividly remembers the moment when he learned he’d received a Susan T. Buffett Scholarship, enabling him to become the first in his family to attend college. He was in sociology class at his high school in Columbus, Nebraska, the only period where his phone had reception.

“The email popped up on my screen when I got service,” Grajeda said. “We were watching a movie and I had a cousin that I lived with in my class, so I turned back to him and whispered, ‘I got it!’ It was a huge relief.”

Born and raised in the United States, Grajeda lived in Columbus until his parents were deported to Guatemala. He lived with them there for a time before returning to Columbus for high school, living with his aunt and uncle. He remembers the joy of calling his parents to tell them about the scholarship that would allow him to become a first-generation student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, a hope Anibal had long harbored.

He also remembers calling them years later with news of another outstanding achievement: that he’d received a Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Spain in 2022.

“I’d always wanted to travel abroad and told my mom that eventually I would do it,” Grajeda said. “Being able to study abroad last summer fulfilled one of my childhood dreams. Now, I just want to help other people get that same experience.”

Grajeda, an international business major, works with others in the International Business Club to help guide students at Nebraska to achieve their study abroad goals.

“I help students understand what it’s going to be like and to not be afraid — to just do it,” he said. “I’d do it again if I could.”

Grajeda is, in fact, trying to do it again, eyeing a Fulbright application for next year. In the meantime, he’s looking forward to another important journey: seeing his little sister, who moved to Nebraska from Guatemala last year, follow in his footsteps and begin to apply for college admission.

“I think that seeing me do it helped her make the decision to apply,” he said. “But, I was definitely first, so she’ll have to be okay with second place.”

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