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Bay Area 1st Generation College Student's Background Helping Him Excel

by Christin Ayers and Jennifer Mistrot

(KPIX 5) -- A Bay Area man has taken his experiences as a young immigrant to help him excel as a first-generation college student.

This past summer, the University of Pennsylvania senior Victor Arellano was working on his final presentation for his colleagues at San Francisco management consulting firm Motive Power. It was the last step in his summer long internship.

"I don't like to just stick with one thing," explained Arellano. "I like to kind of branch out and see where I best fit and if I don't like it, well, there's a ton of other options."

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

His past options have included work for a major bank, and a venture capitalist firm. Arellano has amassed a pretty incredible resume. And plenty of praise from co-workers.

"[He is] pro-active, helpful," said Motive Power Consultant Lawrence Chan. "Jumping into anything, raising his hands to volunteer for anything so it has been really good."

As a first-generation college student, Arellano learned early on the value of hard work. His parents came to the United States from Mexico, and the family struggled. His parents split up and soon after his father left Arellano's life.

"That kind of pushed me to become the man of the house," recalled Arellano. "And that is why I think I became the person who I am."

Education quickly became Arellano's number one priority. He was recruited by Students Rising Above. SRA helped with college costs, and employment. Arellano says he has travelled to Europe using money he earned during the internships SRA helped him find.

"I couldn't be more grateful for the program," said Arellano. "They provided me all the internships that I was really able to do over the summers. So, I mean, I can definitely thank SRA for helping send me to Europe."

As Arellano looks forward to future work and travel, he's also embarking on a different kind of journey. His dad is now back in his life. And the pair are working to re-build their father-son bond.

My relationship with my father is still kind of strained. He is a person that doesn't talk too much," said Arellano. "But if there is one thing that I do at least appreciate is that he was there for part of my life," said Arellano. "He did teach me how to be a hardworking man."

Arellano is very close to his mother, and says his other dream is to one day be able to take of her financially when she retires.


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