Humans of GEN1

GEN1 proudly presents the Humans of GEN1 series!

Are you a first-generation student at the Allen School or know an outstanding first-generation member of the Allen School community? Nominate yourself or them to participate in an interview for our Humans of GEN1 interview series! This is a great chance to share your journey navigating UW and the Allen School and bring to light the diverse perspectives of our community.

Nomination form is here!

Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "an interview with David Cueva Cortez" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is a picture of David smiling and putting up a peace sign. Below the picture is subtitle "2020-21 secretary & 2021-22 vice chair". Text "GEN1 presents: Humans of GEN1" is in the bottom left corner of the photo. Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "Can you introduce yourself and your role in the Allen School?" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is body text "Hello, my name is David and I am a fifth year senior majoring in computer science with a minor in dance. I am currently the vice chair of GEN1." Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "What made you want to study Computer Science at the Allen School?" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is body text "Growing up I helped my dad with a lot of projects around our home; building a shed, installing an irrigation system for the flowers, and creating a cement driveway to name a few. I often draw parallels to those times where you are given all these tools to create something that is going to impact someone." Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "How did being a first-gen student affect your journey during undergrad?" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is body text "When I began undergrad I was already part of two first-gen programs offered at UW. The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), an outreach and support program for students from seasonal and migrant farm working families looking to maximize and enhance their opportunities in higher education. This program surrounded me with other peers that come with migrant farm working and have immigrant Latino parents. The other program was the Washington State Academic Redshirt (STARS) program. STARS helped transition me into UW STEM classes with the cohort of students and all the classes and workshops they had us do." Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "What do you think is not talked about enough in the first gen community?" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is body text "It is much easier to go out and say that one is first-gen around others who are first-gen, as it won’t be seen as a weakness or won’t be looked down on. Because our school is a predominantly white institution, it isn’t set up in such a way for everyone to have an even playing field and first gen students have more of a disadvantage and are more likely to drop out compared to their other peers." Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "What advice would you give your younger self, the first year you came into the Allen School?" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is body text "I would tell myself to go out and explore everything UW has to offer. This encompasses all aspects of college life. Explore all the different resources there are available to you as a general UW student, as a Latino student, and as a first-gen low income student. By going out to explore you never know what you’ll find and it will allow you to go down on a rabbit hole of possibilities." Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "What was the hardest decision you ever had to make during your time at the Allen School?" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is body text "The act of living in Seattle as a full time student. I grew up in a relatively small town on the east side of Washington. The environment there was different from the one here at UW. Back home the population was predominantly Mexican and many people either were immigrants or were children of immigrants, many of whom worked as farm workers. I was comfortable being in the valley; my family was there, there were many people who looked like me and shared many of the same experiences. While it did take me a while to adapt to the city life coming from a small rural town, I always had people by my side to help me with the transition and I couldn’t be any more grateful." Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "Who would you say is your biggest inspiration for your drive?" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is body text "I would say that it was my family. Both my parents immigrated to the US with no knowledge of the English language and stayed in the US as undocumented immigrants. With those things in mind, my parents worked in the only job they were able to do with their current qualifications, field working. Field work does a number on the body given that it’s an extremely physical job. They gave up everything in Mexico to provide our family with a better life in the states and did so by working in the fields and enduring everything that came with it. I knew I could not work in that field for the rest of my life so used that and family’s support as motivation to get where I am today." Square photo with light blue background and white and yellow stars. Title "What's your favorite song?" is centered at the top of the photo. Below the title is body text "All-time favorite song: Skywalker by Miguel. Current favorite song: Luv(sic.) pt3 by Nujabes"

This Humans of GEN1 interview is with David, who has been our 2021-22 Vice Chair and our 2020-21 Secretary!
Swipe to read David's reflection on his motivations and his journey to the Allen School. David will be graduating this Spring 2022 and we wish him well!

You can read David's full interview here.

1: Square photo with light purple background. Top right corner text reads "GEN1 presents: Humans of GEN1" in dark purple. Title "an interview with Aerin Malana" is in white in the top left corner. A picture of Aerin smiling is centered in the photo. Subtitle "2020-21 & 2021-22 gen1 chair" is in white in the bottom right corner. 2: Square photo with light purple background. Title "can you introduce yourself and your role in the allen school?" is in white in the top left corner. Body text "I’m Aerin Malana (she/they), a senior majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Diversity and Labor Studies! I’ve been a student at the Allen School since Fall 2018 and I currently act as Chair of GEN1. I’m also a teaching assistant for CSE 142!" is in purple and centered in the photo in front of a white paper background. 3: Square photo with light purple background. Title "what made you want to study computer science at the allen school?" is in white in the top left corner. Body text "I was drawn to computer science by way of all the things that makes it unique: it’s a great blend of technical problem solving and algorithmic thinking, but it also requires some creativity and good communication skills. These all touched on my strengths I had identified in myself while in high school, plus UW is only 40 minutes away from home so the Allen School was perfect in that sense." is in purple and centered in the photo in front of a white paper background. 4: Square photo with light purple background. Title "how did being a first-gen student affect your journey during undergrad?" is in white in the top left corner. Body text "I think I was just made very aware of how I, like many first-gen students, didn’t have much knowledge about the ins and outs of this institution. It’s a feeling that lingers for a while, being someone with marginalized identities and knowing a PWI like UW and the Allen School were not created with a person like me in mind. I really relied on my communities and the advisors I felt close to to get me through my undergrad years." is in purple and centered in the photo in front of a white paper background. 5: Square photo with light purple background. Title "what do you think is not talked about enough in the first-gen community?" is in white in the top left corner. Body text "Just how much depth there is in the community – being first-gen is an identity many of us hold, but in conjunction with other marginalized identities. Experiences are vastly different between first-gen students and non-first-gen students. But even within the first-gen community, there are vastly different experiences that we face, especially when we consider other intersecting marginalized identities." is in purple and centered in the photo in front of a white paper background. 6: Square photo with light purple background. Title "what advice would you give your younger self, the first year you came into the allen school?" is in white in the top left corner. Body text "Finding community, those who can hold you with love and support and who you can do the same to in return, will make you feel whole. It’ll give meaning to the experiences you have and will provide you drive and reason to continue doing what you’re doing. Find the people that make you feel whole." is in purple and centered in the photo in front of a white paper background. 7: Square photo with light purple background. Title "what was the hardest decision you ever had to make during your time at the allen school?" is in white in the top left corner. Body text "I think the hardest decision I’ve had to make was to put myself and what I wanted to prioritize in my life first. For the past years of my life, my main priorities have been to always put academics first and to try and conform to what was expected of me. At some point, I just realized that college is the time to explore your interests and do what makes you happy and fulfilled. It wasn’t an automatic switch that I made, even in my last quarter, I constantly have to tell myself to make space for myself, for my interests, and my community." is in purple and centered in the photo in front of a white paper background. 8: Square photo with light purple background. Title "who would you say is your biggest inspiration for your drive?" is in white in the top left corner. Body text "The people closest to my heart – my community! I do what I do for my people to make them proud and to hold them in love." is in purple and centered in the photo in front of a white paper background. 9: Square photo with light purple background. Title "what's your favorite song?" is in white in the top left corner. Body text "Right now, my favorite song is Attracted to You by PinkPantheress. My favorite song of all time is I Only Have Eyes for You by The Flamingos. " is in purple and centered in the photo in front of a white paper background.

Our next Humans of GEN1 interview is with Aerin, who has been our chair for the last two years and was one of the founding members of GEN1!
Swipe to read Aerin's reflection on their college experiences and personal growth as a first-generation student<3 Aerin will be graduating this Spring 2022 and we wish her the best!

1: Square photo with a purple gradient background and yellow accents. A picture of Dr. Kurtis Heimerl, smiling for his headshot, is in a circular frame. Title text "An Interview with Dr. Kurtis Heimerl" is in white. "Dr. Kurtis Heimerl" is stylized in bold for emphasis. Underneath the title is a yellow line that separates the title from the subtitle text, "GEN1 presents: Humans of GEN1" in white. 2: Square photo with a purple gradient background and yellow accents. Title text "On his journey to the Allen School" is white and in the bottom left corner of the photo. There is a yellow line that separates this title from the body text, “I got into the university, I applied late, because I didn't know how to apply to schools. But someone in the administration took a little bit of a chance, and let me in. So I came down, and I lived with my sister on Capitol Hill through most of college to save money.” Body text is white and centered on the photo. 3: Square photo with a purple gradient background and yellow accents. Title text "On adversities he faced during his undergraduate experience" is white and in the bottom left corner of the photo. There is a yellow line that separates this title from the body text, “Those adversities were both cultural and individual. I'm the kind of person who only learns by failing. I'm just awful at taking advice, I was given a great deal of wonderful advice that I just simply ignored.” Body text is white and centered on the photo. 4: Square photo with a purple gradient background and yellow accents. Title text "On discovering his journey to graduate school" is white and in the bottom left corner of the photo. There is a yellow line that separates this title from the body text, “Jenny was someone that I looked up to as being very successful, very intelligent. We were in classes together, she was answering things that I couldn't answer. And then she decided to go to graduate school. Before it had always been about the money, like, 'We're gonna go work at Amazon.'” Body text is white and centered on the photo. 5: Square photo with a purple gradient background and yellow accents. Title text "On what compelled him to pursue a career in academia" is white and in the bottom left corner of the photo. There is a yellow line that separates this title from the body text, “Why does anyone go to academia? The answer is that you have a deep-set dislike of being told what to do. Academia is this place where there are still rules, and there's still structures, and there's still incentives, but you can really decide what direction you want to take in so many ways.” Body text is white and centered on the photo. 6: Square photo with a purple gradient background and yellow accents. Title text "On why he turned down industry opportunities after graduation" is white and in the bottom left corner of the photo. There is a yellow line that separates this title from the body text, “I got to go to grad school and work on really fun problems and travel around the world and all these kinds of things that you can do in industry, but you're going to be working on someone else's problem in industry.” Body text is white and centered on the photo. 7: Square photo with a purple gradient background and yellow accents. Title text "On his current favorite song" is white and in the bottom left corner of the photo. There is a yellow line that separates this title from the body text, “Knowledge by Operation Ivy. The band's called Operation Ivy. It was a short lived ska band in North Cal.” Body text is white and centered on the photo.

Dr. Kurtis Heimerl

Our latest Humans of GEN1 interview is with Dr. Kurtis Heimerl, an Assistant Professor in the Allen School! Dr. Heimerl works in the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) lab and his research focuses on improving internet access for all. He shared with us details about his undergrad journey and why he decided to pursue a career in academia. Check out the highlights of this interview!

For our latest installment of Humans of GEN1, we interviewed MS/BS student Andrey Ryabtsev who immigrated to the United States from Russia after a brief stop in Israel as a child. Andrey is set to graduate with dual degrees June of this year! Congratulations Andrey!

For our latest Humans of GEN1, we decided to interview Ege Caglar, a second-year undergraduate at the Allen School! Ege details his transition from the Turkish school system to an American university.

For our latest installment of Humans of GEN1, we interviewed undergraduate student Samek Mulepati, who is not only a first-generation college student but also a first-generation immigrant to the US. In his interview, Samek reflects on navigating English as a second language, attending a post-secondary educational institution in the US at the same time as his mother, and his journey in finding his passion for Computer Science and coming to the Allen School.

For our next Humans of GEN1, we got to interview undergraduate Ardi Madadi. Ardi is a student and researcher at the Allen School who only recently came to the US in 2016!

For our second interview in the Humans of GEN1 Series, we decided to interview Shariya Ali, who is graduating from the Allen School this year! In an inspiring exchange with one of our interviewers, Shariya details the risks she took throughout her journey to get to where she is today.

Humans of GEN1 aims to shout out exemplary individuals at the Allen School who identify as first generation. Our first interview is with Allen School Academic Advisor and GEN1 Staff Advisor, Leslie Ikeda!