- College Readiness & Access
- Affordability & Financial Aid
- College Admission & Completion
- Affinity Network
- Get Involved
Sophomore, University of Central Oklahoma
Who are you?
How would you describe your life and work?
My name is Olivia Saldana, and I am your normal young adult who is a sophomore at the University of Central Oklahoma. My life is really wonderful! I have two of the most wonderful parents, and an amazing brother. I love to sing, dance, and go out with my friends. I love to have a good time, but I never forget about my job and my college work!
What brings you the greatest satisfaction?
My greatest satisfaction would have to be getting into a great college, and knowing I will soon have my college degree; knowing that I will be able to have a good job, and one day be able to support the family that I hope to have!
Where do you go for inspiration?
My parents would have to be my biggest inspiration. I go to them always for advice on anything that I would like to do. They have gone through so much so that my brother and I could have a better life then they had as young teenagers living in Mexico. I thank them every day for all that they do for me, so I just want to make them proud. I love you Mom and Dad!
How did you get to where you are today?
What were the biggest hurdles or challenges that you had to overcome to get to where you are today and how did you do that?
My main challenge has been overcoming my shyness! Ever since I was a little girl I was always very shy and I would have so much trouble talking with people whom I did not know. However, ever since I had to do so much myself in order to get into a good college, that fear has slowly gone away.
All throughout my high school years I wanted to attend college but it seemed impossible for me,” says sophomore Olivia Saldana, one of last year’s participants. “My parents didn’t have the money, and I had no idea where to even start. I waited a year after I graduated from high school to go to college. I just remember my mom saying ‘Go to college! Have a better life than we did, we will find a way to pay for it.’ That meant everything to me. So I applied and got accepted!
What inspired you?
I would have to say my parents are my inspiration for everything that I do. All throughout my high school years I wanted to attend college but it seemed impossible for me. My parents didn’t have the money, and I had no idea where to even start. I waited a year after I graduated from high school to go to college. I just remember my mom saying “Go to college! Have a better life than we did, we will find a way to pay for it.” That meant everything to me. So I applied and got accepted!
How did the idea of college become a reality for you?
Once I was accepted, the idea of going to college started feeling real. I was so lucky to be part of the wonderful Compass Program. They helped me with so much—from meeting new people to filling out financial aid papers! I would have struggled so much my first year if it wasn’t for this program. I am a first generation college student so I had no idea what to expect, but I got through my first year thanks to this program. If I could do it all over again I would!
I would especially love to thank Autumn [Brinegar] and Dr. Jay Corwin for all the help and support throughout my first year college experience. You both made it possible for me to go to college without going through so many struggles. Thank you! I will not let you down, so in two years you will see me walk the stage with my cap and gown!
Where do you see yourself going?
What is the most important thing we can do as a nation, community, or educators, to help people achieve their dreams and reach their personal goals?
Do anything possible to help everyone achieve their dreams. Give them the confidence and support to let them know that it is possible for one who has a low-income or a first time generation to go to college!
Q: What would you like us to know about you, that may surprise us?
A: I love to sing and dance! I am currently in a Spanish band called “Querencia Musical.” We perform locally in Oklahoma, but one day we plan to be more than just a local band!
Q: What advice would you offer to other people who are in circumstance similar to yours?
A: Everything is possible if you just put your mind and heart into it. Even if you are a first generation college student like me. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Get involved on campus so you can meet new people and make many friends so you won’t feel all alone, because many people are going through the exact same thing! Go to class and do everything you can to accomplish your dream!
The College Keys Compact
- CollegeKeys Compact
- The Report
- Join the Compact
- Effective Practices
- Innovation Awards
- Student Voices
- Real Success Stories
The 2013 Catalog of Effective Practices
Download PDF (.pdf, 1.7 MB)
The 2012 Catalog of Effective Practices
Download PDF (.pdf, 870 KB)
The 2011 Catalog of Effective Practices
Download PDF (.pdf, 746.63 KB)
The 2010 Catalog of Effective Practices
Download PDF (.pdf, 397.6 KB)
The CollegeKeys Compact: An Open Letter to the Leaders of American Education
Download PDF (.pdf, 747.64 KB)
A Review of Barriers, Research and Strategies
Download PDF (.pdf, 2.3 MB)
Getting Into College: A Cross-Cohort Examination of College Preparations by Lower-Income Students
Download PDF (.pdf, 851 KB)
Getting Into College: Postsecondary Academic Undermatch
Download PDF (.pdf, 1MB)