First-Generation College Student Sets Example through Leadership

Liberal Arts junior Bryan Gomez received the Newman Civic Fellows Award for outstanding engagement in leadership positions. Photo by Luis Garcia.

Liberal studies junior Bryan Gomez received the Newman Civic Fellows Award for outstanding engagement in leadership positions. Photo by Luis Garcia.

As the oldest sibling and cousin, Bryan Gomez strives to set an example in his family. He is, after all, the first in his family to attend college. The California State University, Northridge junior was recently awarded the Newman Civic Fellows Award by Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 higher education institutions supporting civic engagement on campus.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors students who commit themselves to leadership positions to achieve positive social change and inspire others to engage in social action.

“It is a great honor,” said Gomez, a liberal studies major. “Even if I hadn’t won, it was a great honor to be considered. I never expected to win an award like that.”

Gomez serves as a committee leader for Unified We Serve (UWS) — the California State University’s largest volunteer program — where he volunteers to address community needs through the program’s service projects. He also assists Coaching Corps, a nonprofit organization that helps connect volunteer coaches with children in low-income communities.

“I recruit students to volunteer for coaching at places that don’t have the money to coach kids,” he said. “I like to give back to the community and to motivate other students to give back.”

Gomez said he has a passion for helping children become educated and independent individuals. After graduating from CSUN, he said, he wants to work on a master’s degree in education and become a teacher and mentor to the next generation.

“I want to be an elementary school teacher,” he said. “Kids are the future and the ones who are going to live after us. I want to shape the leadership for the future.”

If Gomez has free time to spare, he volunteers at the Everybody Reads program at Noble Elementary School in North Hills, which provides children with learning and reading experiences through donated books.

“Bryan’s volunteer work shows his dedication and commitment, but most importantly speaks to his passion for addressing the needs of his community, including education,” said Maria Elizondo, UWS coordinator. “He is passionate, focused and the kind of person who seeks accomplishments through hard work and dedication.”

Elizondo has worked closely with Gomez on multiple UWS projects, which is why she nominated him for the Newman Civic Fellows Award.

“Bryan aims to position himself to contribute significantly to our society by teaching our next generation of leaders the way to success through education,” she said. “He is truly in tune with his passion, personal interests and values. He is a great role model who exudes confidence through an unwavering positive attitude.”

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