A UNT business student has created a mentorship program designed to help incoming first generation minority students during their first year of college.

Junior business integrated studies major Teresa Aguayo has founded Primero: Leadership for First Generation Minority Students in Business, or UNT Primero, as an effort to help minority students with networking and navigating their college experience.

“I always felt that as a first generation minority student I was at a disadvantage in comparison to other college of business students,” Aguayo said in an email. “It’s historically shown that a certain type of college student thrives within the college of business, and it wasn’t usually the brown kid with zero connections whose parents had little to no education.”

In addition to being president of UNT Primero, Aguayo interned with the City of Grapevine to help low-income minority families and she is also a student assistant for the Emerald Eagle Scholars Program.

Aguayo said she felt minorities were underrepresented within the college of business and thought they deserved an equal opportunity to succeed, so she set out to help those students that she believes need it the most.

During Student Government Association senator elections last spring, Aguayo’s mission statement focused primarily on minorities.

She was selected as a senator and during the summer senate session she decided to start a program specifically aimed at helping the first generation minority students within the college of business.

“I grew up speaking Spanish because neither of my parents knew how to speak English,” Aguayo said. “I thought about all the children of immigrants and how they probably felt the same. Underrepresented and ignored. So I named the organization Primero to represent the students who it was made for: first generation minorities.”

The purpose of the student led organization is to provide help for first generation students by pairing them with an upperclassman. From there, the mentor will help the student adjust to UNT, learn more about the community, and meet new people.

“A program that involves students helping students has the most profound impact,” SGA Senate vice president and speaker Barrett Cole said in an email. “Interpersonal skills are not only fundamental to the college of business, but necessary.”

On the program’s official website, mentee and mentor applications are available and are almost identical so students can be paired up based on compatibility.

“We have students coming in from all around the world, whether it’s for their full degree or just a semester or year of study abroad,” UNT Primero vice president Arushi Dattatreya said. “It’s important to acknowledge the fact that not everybody is from the same background and has the same knowledge, connections, and understanding of the city, state, or even the country that we live in.”

Cole said the interpersonal development skills that mentorship programs can offer are transferable to other colleges within the university as they are valued across a majority of industries.

Students within the college of business will be looked at first, however Aguayo said applications are open to anyone and encourages students to apply to be mentors.

“Being a mentor greatly improved my leadership skills but it also gave me an opportunity to create long-lasting relationships,” Aguayo said. “Each person I mentored gave me a different perspective and made me want to become a better role model. I believe everyone should have [that] opportunity.”

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