Solotar and Bautista: First-Generation College Students

Spring commencement included many first-generation college students, including student speaker Rosa Bautitista ’16 and alumna speaker Joan Solotar ’86, senior managing director at Blackstone Group. Yet another first-generation college student, Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence winner, business student Cristian Palma, delivered the student address for the university ceremony.  More than 25% of this year graduates were the first in their families to graduate from college.

“We are Great Danes. Yes, that makes us dogs. But it doesn’t make us… underdogs.
With the education you received here, you have the tools to compete with anyone.
Don’t doubt yourself.
Don’t be intimidated.
Always remember where you came from, but never doubt how far you can go.”
– Joan Solotar ’86, 
Senior Managing Director at Blackstone Group

"As a first-generation immigrant, I can say that I truly appreciate the value of opportunity. And that is what living in the U.S. presented to me – the power to decide my future. My mother worked odd jobs: housekeeper, babysitter, factory worker. I watched her sacrifice her land, her home, her people – so that I may have the chance to go to college and become a professional. And so, when I was just a kid I made myself a promise: that no matter what, no matter how, I would get a college degree, I would make her proud, I would make it worth her sacrifice. And here we are today. Mami, Gracias."

– Rosa Bautitista ’16 
Technology risk advisory at EY