First-generation student Ingrid Zarate Albarran overcame her share of adversities to get to this moment. She came to the United States from Mexico with her family to begin a new journey, even though they had nothing when they started. Classes were difficult with the added challenge of learning a new language. But she rose to the occasion and is now graduating with honors, a bachelor of science in business administration, and as one of UNLV's Spring 2020 Outstanding Graduates. Not to mention, countless memories from participating in UNLV Collegiate DECA, competing in business student competitions, serving in CSUN student government, and volunteering at The Public Education Foundation.
The skills she's learned during her time at Lee Business School led Ingrid to opportunities as an entrepreneurial service intern at Rubin Brown and an assurance intern at Ernst and Young, where she will be continuing as she also pursues a master's degree in accounting.
My most memorable UNLV experience was becoming a part of the global entrepreneurship experience (GEE) program. The GEE program allowed me to develop life-long relationships and essential career skills. This was the class that I looked forward to every single Friday because we would do everything, from creating new business ideas to participating in an acting workshop. Another memorable experience was participating in the National Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Student Case Competition. The competition took place in San Diego, California in June of 2019. The preparation was a lot of work but it was all worth it since my team and I placed in first, bringing UNLV the national victory.
I have learned that although we don’t all have the same start line, we all have an opportunity to cross the finish line. Class of 2020, I know that each of you faced individual trials that might have made you believe that you were never going to make it to this moment-graduation. I personally never would have imagined that I was going to go to college, let alone make it to graduation. I grew up in a humble village in Mexico where academic opportunities are low to none for first-generation students like me. And even after coming to America, the land opportunities, it was difficult to get a chance.
Like hundreds of other immigrants, my parents and I came here with absolutely nothing. Not only that, but classes by themselves were hard enough and it was even worse since they were in a language I did not understand. It is evident that I didn’t have the same start line as someone who perhaps was more financially stable or someone who didn’t have to learn a new language in order to pass a simple class. But in the end, I know that as we strive to overcome our own adversities, we will rise to the finish line. And many times it is the people who started in the back, which end up at the front.
We know this isn't how you imagined your senior year ending ... How has COVID-19 affected your last semester?
This last semester was the hardest for me because it was difficult to stay motivated. Most of the things I looked forward to doing my senior year were canceled and that’s an experience I won’t get to repeat. As a first-generation student, this was a moment that my family and I had been looking forward to for years. My family was supposed to come from Mexico to celebrate this accomplishment with me, but every flight was canceled. Regardless of all, I am very grateful for all the precautions that UNLV took in order to keep us all safe.
Advice for new Rebels
My advice to incoming Rebels is to find the time to say “yes.” You don’t want to miss out on the Homecoming parades or UNLV Premier because those are once in a lifetime memories. Make sure to get involved and meet new people because networking is key to a successful career path.