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Meet them all: 2022 first-generation featured students

In recognition of the annual First-Generation College Celebration on November 7, the College of Education profiled outstanding first-generation students November 7-11. This year, five first-generation students from across the university were featured. Each student is involved in programs in the College of Education’s Center for Multicultural Educational Opportunities (CMEO) which includes a variety of programs that support first-generation college students. This year’s featured students are listed below with the CMEO program they’re involved in, along with more information at each of their links.

  • Melissa Ronquillo, TRIO STEM Scholars
  • Emilee Spahnle, TRIO Rising Scholars
  • Ally Almaraz, TRIO Rising Scholars, McNair Scholars
  • Zoey Heimback, TRIO Teacher Prep
  • Raheem Mohamed, TRIO Upward Bound & TRIO STEM Scholars

Melissa Ronquillo

Raised by a hard-working family in Star, Melissa Ronquillo knew through experiencing the struggles her parents faced, who are immigrants from El Salvador and Mexico, that she would pursue education and follow her passion for healthcare. Ronquillo found the TRIO STEM Scholars program as a sophomore at Boise State, which provided support and a community she could relate to as a first-generation student and aspiring healthcare professional.

Learn more about Melissa

Emilee Spahnle

Emilee Spahnle remembers a conversation with her mom while she was in high school about affording college that prompted her to offer not to go so her family would not have to bear the cost. However, she persevered through personal struggles in high school and earned a scholarship to help pay tuition at Boise State. Spahnle found the TRIO Rising Scholars program in the and hit her stride as a college student with the support and mentorship available for first-generation college students like her.

Learn more about Emilee

Ally Almaraz

First-generation college student, TRIO Rising Scholars and McNair Scholar Alejandra (Ally) Almaraz has been working on her undergraduate degree, while also working for NASA, and doing research for Boise State, on top of her job that pays the bills.

Learn more about Ally

Zoey Heimback

First-generation student Zoey Heimback’s family has always prioritized education, despite being from a low-income background. Her grandmother set the tone for the family by expecting the younger generations to attend college to better their circumstances. Now with the help of TRIO Teacher Prep, Heimback will become an educator herself with a degree in elementary education, emphasizing in math.

Learn more about Zoey

Raheem Mohamed

Raheem Mohamed began his journey to college in high school through the TRIO Upward Bound program, which provides a pathway for students like him who are from immigrant and low-income backgrounds to go to college. Once at Boise State, Mohamed immediately connected with the TRIO STEM Scholars program on campus for the support system he would need to succeed at Boise State.

Learn more about Raheem