Get to know Abel, one of Access Opportunity's Student Ambassadors for the 2023-24 school year.
Abel is entering his second year at Boston College, and while he's currently undeclared, he wants to study Biology or Biochemistry. He's halfway through his time in Access Opportunity as a member of the Class of 2026. Throughout the year, we will get to know him better through his stories, experiences, and advice for his fellow AO students.
In His Own Words
Hello, my name is Abel Jimenez and I will be a sophomore at Boston College this following school year. I have been undeclared since I started at BC, but I am planning on either declaring a major in Biology or Biochem this year depending how certain courses go. I also plan to apply for the public health minor this year as well!
With my undergraduate degree I plan on pursuing a medical career of some sort. As of now I will gain some sort of medical experience in these next few school years in order to become a strong applicant either for a medical school or a PA program. However, I do also want to consider opportunities in health that aren't so concrete and want to continue to find some more opportunities that might align with similar passions of mine.
AO: Are there any ways in your life or educational journey that you feel like a trailblazer (the first one to pave the way, discovering/creating your own path, etc)?
Abel: When it comes to my college journey, both applying to schools and actually being able to attend a prestigious university, the road has definitely had some bumps. I am one of five siblings, however I am the only one of those siblings to apply and attend a four year college. Not only is that pressure quite enough, but I am also the only person in my entire extended family to do such a thing. I have no older cousins, aunts or uncles who have ever had to go through this experience.
Most of the time I feel the weight that I'm the first one in my family paving the way for others to attend college in future years to come. I find this sometimes stressful with the pressure that comes along with it. However, I look at my three nieces and one nephew, along with countless other young cousins and see how my journey will only help them later in life. I can see how being the first one in my family to pursue higher education will not only benefit myself but also those around me in future years to come, which makes the pressure worthwhile.
AO: How would you describe the first-generation experience based on what you have seen & felt? What advice would you give to other first-gen students?
Abel: I come from a family of five siblings. My twin sister and I are the youngest of the five. Other than my twin sister, I have three older sisters. School wasn't really ever what my older sisters or twin sister thought was something important to them. They were aware that school simply isn't for everyone and they knew they didn't want to pursue something further with their education. In my case, however, school was always something I was relatively good at and I always wanted to do something with my education beyond high school.
This was, of course, a little more difficult since no one in my family has attended a four-year college or even attempted to apply to one. This meant that all the resources that I needed to apply for and attend a college would need to come from outside sources. Applications were harder, filling out FAFSA was harder, and applying for financial aid was harder. Of course, AO and some other programs I was involved in would all serve as great resources in helping me get to Boston College where my story currently stands.
Even with all the resources I gained throughout the years, actually beginning my college journey wasn't at all easy. I quickly learned that many people on campus held resources that I did not. Many students wouldn't have to work on campus, worry about attaining certain supplies for class, or budget their income smartly for the semester.
Being first-gen was hard especially since I was stubborn and didn't like asking for help. However, I realized that resources and support are there for a reason- to be utilized. There is so much support for first-gen students on campuses that just needs to be used! And utilize them to their fullest extent without feeling guilty about it.
I feel like when it comes to being a first-gen student sometimes we allow that identity to put a heavy weight on our shoulders. It almost feels like if we don't exemplify the identity to the fullest extent, then we can't be proud of it. Being first-gen might feel like your only identity on campus, but don't let it be, express all of yourself and utilize your different identities in the same manner.
AO: How did you first feel when you first got accepted into Access Opportunity?
Abel: During my sophomore year toward the end of it, was when I received a note during my math class. The note read to come down during the third period to learn more about the opportunity to apply for a program called Access Opportunity. Of course, I read the note wrong and arrived at the end of the meeting. I rushed down and found a meeting that was already over. That is when I met Natalee for the first time and she kindly caught me up about the whole meeting and AO.
The program sounded great and I went home and told my mom and dad that I planned to apply. I applied and waited to hear back. I eventually heard back and got an interview in March of that year I believe. Then in April, I believe I heard back and received the news that I got into the program. Getting accepted felt very rewarding. Getting into the program was exciting and knowing that I would have an increased chance of getting into a four-year college excited my parents and family.
AO wound became my biggest support system throughout the following two years. A support system that would help greatly, especially during my senior year of high school. Let's just say I desperately needed the support. Senior year for many is very stressful and motivation sometimes goes out of the window. For me, that is exactly what happened. Somehow deadlines sped up and I was in the last weeks of the first semester when I realized that regular decision applications for college were in just three weeks. During those weeks I met with Natalee, my counselor at the time, probably three times a week. I talked to her about countless essays that hadn't even been started yet along with a list of more schools I still planned on applying to. Then during winter break, I applied to ~12 different universities.
In March, the college acceptance letters began to come in (along with some rejections). I remember when I got into BC the first person I called was Natalee and she showed excitement for me like no other. She continued to show her support with my acceptance into other schools. My parents' excitement as I got acceptances was huge. Their support alongside the support I received from the rest of my extended family made me feel so proud of myself.
AO: Are you involved in any groups or clubs at school? Why did you choose the one(s) you did?
Abel: Throughout my freshman year at Boston College, I was introduced to countless groups on campus that held/exemplified many different identities. Personally, some identities that I hold are First generation, Hispanic, Mexican, Bisexuality, and being cis-male. I tried to both find groups on campus that met these identities, but also tried stepping out of my comfort zone and attending other events that I might not have identified with.
One group that I continued to attend events throughout the whole school year was a group that was called OOLA (Organization of Latin Affairs). Their main goal of course was bringing a welcoming environment to individuals who held Latinidad. Coming from a Latin country and helping students realize the similarities and differences between different countries. All the students in the group come from many different places such as: Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, El Salvador, Columbia, Ecuador, and much more. They held many events such as family feud, breakfast around the world, Latin queer social, and much more. This year I'll be the external affairs board member for the club and can't wait to take on such a cool role! I will get to help our organization connect with other groups on campus as well as potentially reaching out to collaborate with schools off campus as well.
Stay tuned for more of Abel's stories throughout the year!