my first one story – Angel Sanchez

Angel at the First One campaign kick-off

Angel at the First One campaign kick-off

As we enter the final days of the First One campaign, we asked Angel to share his personal story about being a first-generation student. The campaign ends tomorrow, but there is still time to support at

My name is Angel Sanchez, and I am the first in my family to not only get a GED, but to go to college and excel at it. Despite not having the resources and guidance available to make college a realistic possibility, today I am a 4.0 honor student at Valencia College and much of it has been thanks to the support I’ve received from grants and Valencia Foundation scholarships which have made college a reality.

My story, as is the story of every first-generation college student, is the story of heroes. I feel that by going to college and defying the odds, I am becoming the hero in my family.

I was struck with this reality when I was visiting my family in Miami during the winter break and was talking with my little niece, Destiny. Destiny is 7-years-old and growing up in the crime ridden inner cities of Miami and knows no one who has ever finished school besides her teachers. Before leaving, Destiny asked me why did I have to go, and I explained that I had to return to Orlando because I had classes the following Monday. In shock, Destiny asked, “Uncle, you’re in school? What grade are you in?” I giggled and said, “Baby, I’m in college; I’m past high school,” and with sheer confidence she replied, “Uncle I’m going to go to college too.”

At that point I realized that I carried with me a great responsibility and had been given a great privilege: as a first-generation college student, not only did I have the opportunity to change the trajectory of my own life, but I was also changing the idea of what was possible for my little niece—I was given the opportunity to be a hero for my family.

However, I am not the only hero in this story. Just as I am having an impact on Destiny’s life, there have been countless individuals who have impacted my life and helped make my college dream a reality—they too are heroes!

Therefore, whenever you are able to help someone be the first in their family to do something great, such as going to college, you are being a hero, because as one of my friends once told me, “when we change someone’s life, we are changing that life plus the ripple effect.” So I challenge you today to be a hero and join me in helping other first-generation college students become heroes too!

Visit and help someone today.


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