First-generation ASU student blazes new trail

Monday, September 14, 2020

Jesus Peralta is an only child and the first in his whole family to attend college, so the pressure to do well in school is something that motivates him every day.

He graduated from high school with an associate degree in science from South Mountain Community College and started his journey at Arizona State University in fall 2019.

This year, the sophomore was selected to receive the School of Molecular Sciences First-Generation Scholarship. Funded by the School of Molecular Sciences community, the scholarship supports outstanding, first-generation undergraduate students completing degrees in chemistry or biochemistry in the school. Peralta is majoring in biochemistry and microbiology, with a minor in global health.

“I knew I would be the first experiencing many of the struggles that come with obtaining a higher education. However, I am setting the path for my cousins that are much younger than me to learn about the power of opening your heart and mind to a higher education,” he said. 

Being a first-generation student in college has been a remarkable experience for him so far. He chose ASU with the hope of one day being able to find a community of support and passion for curing diseases. At the School of Molecular Sciences, he found just that. He was drawn in by the research aspects, innovative efforts and support that the school had to offer.

Peralta is an ambitious student with a passion for helping his community prosper and serves as an outstanding role model for many prospective first-generation college students. He works as a Be A Leader adviser, where he dedicates his time inspiring students in secondary schools to continue their journey to earn a college degree, especially in the STEM field.

However, in his first year in college, Peralta came across a challenging obstacle. The pandemic sent him home to finish his remaining semester of freshman year through Zoom. Despite finding it harder to focus on his academics at home, Peralta persevered and completed his first year by organizing his time better with a planner and including time for self-care.

Over the summer, he took part in a scientific journal club, which helped him prepare for the upcoming semester's scientific reading terms. 

Question: Where do you see yourself in the future after graduation?

Answer: I am interested in applying to medical school but am keeping an open mind. I am overwhelmed by my opportunities and have an interest in research.

Q: If you were to describe your freshman year in one word, what would it be and why?

A: One word that describes my freshman year is exploratory. This year was the time to get to know me and the resources available around me to be successful. I have been able to talk to my advisers, the First-Year Success Center, and joined the SAACS organization on campus.

Q: What has been your most memorable experience with ASU so far?

A: I joined the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society, and they encouraged me to volunteer at a Welcome Week event. I talked to children and met (School of Molecular Sciences) community members, where I could do science experiments in front of them and show them that science is fun.

Q: What is one piece of advice that you would give to an School of Molecular Sciences freshman who is in your shoes today?

A: I would tell them not to be scared to ask questions, step outside of their comfort zone, network/meet new people, and find out what their passion is. 

Written by Mariela Lozano mlozan20@asu.edu, School of Molecular Sciences communctions assistant. Jenny Green contributed to the story.