Editor’s Note — This is part of a weekly student conversation series highlighted for Women’s History Month on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Medium page. The series will feature students who are making impacts on campus and hope to maintain that momentum in future careers.
Abby Javier-Paxtle is a human development and family science and Spanish major with minors in sociology and women’s and gender studies. As a first-generation college student, she’s serving as a role model for her family and fellow Huskers on campus.
Talk a little about your experience as a first-generation college student.
Being a first-generation college student came with a lot of questions and worries since I am the oldest cousin of my generation, I felt the pressure of having to set an example for all those coming after me. I questioned myself a lot, wondering if I really belonged at college, why I seemed different from everyone else and if I really had the knowledge and qualities I needed to belong here. I constantly found reassurance in the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy. They were my rock foundation that transitioned me from the start to the near end of my college career. Apart from them, I was able to find a home and community within the Multicultural Greek Council when I joined Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc. Once I got the feeling of belonging in a community, it seemed like everything else just fit right into place.
How did NCPA help prepare you as you entered college?
The Nebraska College Preparatory Academy is a program I have been a part of since the end of my eighth-grade year in middle school. On top of the financial promise we can obtain at the end of our senior year in high school, they provide support in many areas. Every summer we would visit UNL campus and go to workshops whether they would cover how to take the best notes or how to do our taxes, NCPA provided us with experiences from all areas. The thing I appreciate the most about NCPA is their commitment to helping us students in all areas, the staff always being a great listening ear. No matter what stage of college I was in, there was always someone I could talk and reach out to from Karen in the high school side, to Deena and Vanessa in the college side, even our most busy director Moi Padilla always makes sure to check in and make time for each and every one of us if we ever need it. Without NCPA, I definitely would have been lost in how to make college possible for myself.
You have helped incoming first-year students as an NCPA peer mentor. What is your favorite part of serving in that kind of role or is there anything you’ve learned from the experience?
With everything that NCPA has given me, I have always wanted to give back in some sort of way and the peer mentor program has made this possible. NCPA has many mentor programs options where upperclassmen in high school can mentor freshmen in Grand Island, between high school and college students in Omaha and also the peer leading program where upperclassmen college students will mentor incoming freshmen to help them with the college transition. I was luckily able to do all programs within my time in the program. While not everyone needs a mentor, being able to leave an impact on at least one student has been very rewarding. I got to meet some of the most amazing people through our mentoring programs and love to see their successes. Being able to watch someone transition and grow, while being a part of that process really makes you see in yourself how much you have grown and how things have changed.
Why did you decide to join Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc.? Is there anything that being part of it has taught you?
While going to events on campus, I found my place within Lambda Theta Nu Sorority, Inc., an organization where Latinas are supported by sisterhood and bring each other up, with no sister left behind. There has been no moment where I have not been supported by this sorority. Whether it be academic or personal, I always have someone by my side who is there for me in the best and worst of times. We learned to come together, even though all come from different backgrounds, small and big, we became a family to help each other when one felt down. When joining a multicultural sorority, it opens the door to meet so many more people through the Multicultural Greek Council.
What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
I hope to make a positive impact in many lives. I want to help as many people as possible whether it’s through translating, being a shoulder to lean on or any way I can make someone’s day or life better. For me, there is no better feeling than seeing another person succeed and I was able to help in some way.
What or who inspires you?
My little sister Denisse inspires me every day. She has the sweetest heart and is always looking to help others as well. No matter what, she always looks at the positive side of every day and every situation. As someone who has everything she needs, she rarely asks for more, always asking if we could donate it to someone else or we could save it for later for when we really need it. Her mindset is something beautiful that I am proud to share with her. My little sisters are my motivation every day.
What is your advice to other first-generation students or students looking to make an impact?
Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid to try something new, to ask questions, to speak up, to input a new idea, to eat alone during lunch, to join a club, sorority/fraternity or learning community with no one you know in it. It all seems scary, but these things help us learn and grow. I was the quietest person back in high school and I would have never thought of doing all the things I have done so far, meeting the amazing people I was able to meet and obtaining some of the most amazing friends, something I would not have done if I was afraid.