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Adilene Ambriz: “As a first-generation student, higher education transformed me”

The fifth annual First-Generation College Celebration on November 8, 2022 recognizes the success of first-generation students across the country. It also honors the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, landmark legislation making post-secondary education more accessible to students of all backgrounds.  

Boise State Online proudly serves many first-generation students, including Adilene Ambriz, an online Bachelor of Arts in Public Health student.

Journey to the United States

Ambriz and her family moved to Idaho from Mexico when she was an infant. “I was born in Mexico but immigrated to the United States when I was one year old. I am the oldest of four kids,” she explained. 

When my father was looking for a place to settle down, he chose Twin Falls because it had K-12 schools, hospitals, a mall and a community college. He hoped that we would at least finish a community college education.”

Ambriz’s family remained in Twin Falls, Idaho throughout her childhood. She graduated from a local high school in 2018 and began planning for her future. 

First in Her Family

Following her high school graduation milestone, Ambriz faced the daunting step of navigating higher education as a first-generation student or the first person in her family to attend college. 

According to the Center for First-Generation Student Success, “one in three undergraduates – nearly five million students – identify as first-generation.

Compared to legacy student peers, first-generation students:

  • Have fewer financial resources ($41k median parental income vs. $90k).
  • Pursue college-level education at lower rates (72% vs. 93%).
  • Attain four-year degrees at lower rates (20% vs. 49%).”

Addressing these disparities and improving the experiences and success of first-generation students will have an intergenerational impact on their lives and the lives of their families. 

Adilene Ambriz smiles and sits outdoors.
Adilene Ambriz, current online Bachelor of Arts in Public Health student.

Choosing Boise State’s Online Public Health Program

Adilene Ambriz understood the value of college and didn’t allow her first-generation status to stop her from pursuing an education. 

“After graduating high school, I knew I wanted a degree,” she said. “I was hesitant to attend a four-year university because I didn’t feel confident in myself. So, I attended a community college first and got my associate’s degree.”. 

With an associate’s degree in hand, she felt ready for a bachelor’s degree program. Ambriz’s plans changed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She chose to stay close to her family and continue taking classes locally. As she started learning more about public health efforts concerning the pandemic, Ambriz registered for a public health course with the College of Western Idaho.

“I greatly enjoyed the course and decided to enroll at Boise State University once I saw that an online option was available for public health,” Ambriz said This allowed me to continue living with my parents, seeing my friends and still get the education I wanted.”

Boise State Online’s Bachelor of Arts in Public Health is designed for people passionate about health equity and wellness. The degree focuses on developing essential skills that can be applied across a range of settings to promote the health and well-being of all people and communities. 

Public Health Classes that Inspire

Now in her final year of the online public health program, Ambriz reflects on her favorite course thus far — PUBH 470: Collaborating for Change.

“I learned to create proposals for stakeholders and nonprofit organizations. It also inspired my interest in women, children and LGBTQ+ health topics,” Ambriz said.

PUBH 470 is one of many classes that prepare students to address community health-related challenges through engagement and education. Boise State’s online public health program builds the leadership skills and public health knowledge students need to promote positive social change.

Ambriz recommends online classes because of the unique independence it provides to students. 

“I also recommend it to people who want to manage their own time and work at their own pace,” Ambriz said. “I have had positive experiences with online learning and often go for online classes instead of in-person because of the flexibility.”

Proud First-Generation Student

Adilene Ambriz and her family in front of a fountain.
Adilene Ambriz celebrates her success as a first-generation student with her family.

What does the future hold for Adilene Ambriz? More education and an exciting career. 

“I plan to continue on to Idaho State University’s college of pharmacy program and potentially pursue a dual PharmD/Master of Public Health plan of study,” she said. “I want to eventually go into a pharmaceutical research or public health organization position.”

Even now, Ambriz understands the true value of her college journey. 

“I think that as a first-generation student, higher education has definitely transformed me. My worldview has expanded due to the knowledge, skills and perspectives I would not have been exposed to had I not continued my education.” she reflected. “I was the first on my mother’s side of the family to graduate from high school and have a college degree. There is a lot of pride in that.”

Learn More About Online Public Health

Boise State Online is now accepting applications for the fully online public health degree and certificate programs. Connect with a student success coach, who can walk you through every step of the financial aid and admissions processes. 

Contact a Student Success Coach

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