Blanca Jaramillo ’21 mentors first generation Latina students in the Dean of Students Office at the University of Houston, TX

Hello! My name is Blanca Jaramillo and I am an incoming Junior psychology major and (intended) film and media studies minor. This summer I am interning at the University of Houston, Dean of Students office. I am working with a mentoring program that is designed for first generation Latina students.

Coming into this internship I had no idea what to expect. Right off the bat, it was not what I was expecting at all. The first week of my internship, other interns and I went through an orientation at the University of Houston where we learned more about resources on campus and tips for our internship. We were also able to get to know some staff that are there for us if we have any questions regarding the internship. I’m really glad I went through this orientation because the different workshops we attended really helped me have a better visual on what was expected of me and what I needed to work on in order to be efficient. For example, in one workshop we learned about our strengths (by taking the Clifton strengths assessment) and how we could use our strengths to our advantage when working with others and alone.

Thanks to the workshops, I now had a clearer idea on what to do, which made it easier to get working. At the Dean of Students Office, I am working with Ms. Pacheco and she runs the mentoring group Las Comadres. Las Comadres is a mentoring program (among others), but what makes this one unique is that it focuses on helping first-generation Latinas. I wanted to be a part of this team because as a fellow Latina and first-generation student, I know how hard it can be to transition to college. Whitman has its own mentoring program that I have benefitted from and I saw this as a great opportunity to learn about how other mentoring programs work, while also considering my own experiences and bringing them to the group.

In July, I will be working with the Summer Bridge. In this program, student leaders lead a group of incoming Freshmen and help them transition from high school to college. They go through workshops that are there to inform the incoming students of different resources available to them. I will be a part of the student leaders and will be helping with that transition. During this program, recruitment for potential mentees for Las Comadres will be taking place as well. These programs help the students have all the support they need to succeed in college, which is why I love being a part of it.

I was a part of the summer fly-in at Whitman, which helps first-generation/working class students and that helped immensely when it came to get through my first year at Whitman. I know how hard first year and the years after that can be but having support along the way truly helps. I am really excited to continue my work at the University of Houston where my personal experience will help me lead the incoming class. Then I will be able to take this new experience to Whitman just how I was able to take my experience from Whitman to the University of Houston!

Experiences like Blanca Jamarillo’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez


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