Valeria Carrillo: My First Semester at Rice University

This August, YOU made it possible for Valeria Carrillo, IDEA Class of 2022 Alumna, to begin her college journey as a freshman Business major at Rice University. We caught up with her about her first semester and how your contributions made her college dreams possible.

What will you always remember about your first week of college?

I will always remember the tears and the proud look on my mother’s face when my family dropped me off on campus; you could tell she knew her support and my hard work paid off. The first week was surreal, but it finally hit me that my dream was no longer a dream when I had the opportunity to walk under Sally Port, an iconic archway at Rice that new and graduating classes walk underneath as a rite of passage.

Valeria celebrates the start to her first semester at Rice University with her mom in front of the iconic Sally Port archway.

How has your IDEA scholarship helped you?

I was able to purchase my laptop with my scholarship from IDEA, which really assists me in completing my homework and readings, but more than anything, this scholarship has empowered me to be the first in my family to graduate high school, attend my dream college, and make my family proud. Growing up in a low-income household, I had doubts if attending the college of my choice would be possible due to my limited financial resources and rising college costs. “Echale ganas mija, nunca se rinda y sabes que con la ayuda de Dios vas a seguir adelante” is a phrase that my parents engrained in my mind growing up whenever I set my mind on a goal that seemed out of reach. It essentially means “Give it the best you got and never give up; with the help of God you will succeed.” This has, and will always, continue to be my motivation to continue my education, and I thank IDEA staff and supporters for making it possible for me to do so.

Which college course are you enjoying the most?

I’m enjoying all my classes so far, but I am finding my business class to be my favorite. I like that it focuses on teaching the social psychology of earning individuals’ trust to run a business and how to trust your own decision-making skills. I know this knowledge is going to help me invest back in my hometown in Weslaco as a business manager one day.

What is the biggest challenge since you started your first semester?

While I feel prepared for the academic rigor of college, thanks to my IDEA AP courses and teachers, the biggest hurdle I am facing right now is time management. There are so many extracurricular activities and events happening on campus, so I’m working to find the right balance of study and social time.

What college experiences are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward to getting my first exams back and seeing how I do to determine a game plan for how to study better for the next one, if needed. I’m also looking forward to getting involved with the Hispanic association to help represent people of color and dance association because I love Latin music.

Valeria participates in a freshman orientation activity her first week on campus.

In what ways do you feel IDEA prepared you for college?

My professors shared they were going to be emphasizing peer talk in class. At IDEA, we did a lot of peer talk and peer evaluations, so I feel prepared and have enjoyed engaging with my peers. My professors also made it clear that it is a student’s responsibility to communicate with them if we do not understand something in the lecture material or assignments. My IDEA teachers implemented office hours and the same expectation for student-driven communication, so I have been able to easily engage with my professors and be my own advocate.

Your investment in college scholarships for IDEA students makes it possible for Valeria and countless IDEA alumni to attend the college of their choice and change the trajectory of their life, so thank you for your continued support and belief in our mission of College for All. You make college dreams possible!

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