Andrew Perez ‘16, a sophomore at Harvard University, visited Loyola on Wednesday, Jan. 10, to share his experience at the university with current students. Perez discussed student life, academics and the path that Loyola students may follow to attend Harvard.
Initially, Perez wasn’t as intellectually motivated as he is today. He came to Loyola from a public school in Whittier and had a difficult time adjusting to the academically rigorous environment at Loyola.
Perez said, “I felt socially out of it freshman year. The community was different from the one I grew up in.”
The social struggles that Perez experienced his first year reflected his academic performance.
Contreras said, “I remember one day he walked into my classroom very upset. I asked him why he was so mad, and he responded that his counselor had just told him that his grades were not good enough to get into Harvard. I told him to use his counselor’s words as motivation. After his initial struggles, he worked harder than ever.”
Similar to his experience at Loyola, Perez became involved in the first generation student community at Harvard. Perez said, “Realizing how my college journey has been so different than my peers, I sought out the First-Generation Student Union to give back and make a difference.”
Perez now serves as President of the First-Generation Student Union.
Perez said, “I am in charge of advocating for first-generation, low-income issues on campus as well as fostering a community. Right now, I am focused on creating a pre-orientation program for first-gen, low-income students at Harvard.”
Perez also talks about viewing Harvard as an achievable goal to students in the Los Angeles area and in low-income communities
He said, “Often, I do go back home to Pico Rivera and serve the local high schools. I’d even go as far as to say that Harvard needs them; students from backgrounds are often not represented at institutions like Harvard.”