Saint John’s University feels like home for Cortez, a sophomore biology major with a focus in pre-dentistry. “I love talking about Saint. Johns — it gets me excited. The people are so welcoming on campus, and the St. Joseph community is really down-to-earth.” Cortez is a recipient of the Access & Equity Scholarship — a scholarship awarded to first-generation students with demonstrated financial need. “In high school, I knew I could probably find a way to pay for college, but I couldn’t have afforded a great school like Saint John’s without scholarships like the Access & Equity Scholarship.”
Cortez has always been a self-motivator growing up and now in college. “I was determined to find a way to go to college. I wanted to set the best example for my little brother, so I did all that I could — not going to college wasn’t an option for me.” At Saint John’s Cortez plays football, works on campus, and is a member of Intercultural LEAD, a club for first-generation college students. Students have to apply and interview to gain membership in Intercultural LEAD, which makes Cortez even more thankful for being a part of it. “Intercultural LEAD is a club where I can talk about the unique situation of being a first-generation student with kids who really get it.”
Cortez hopes to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, near his family and friends. In the meantime, he is excited to have his little brother joining him as a first-year student at Saint John’s with him this fall.