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Matthew HinojosaMeet Matthew Hinojosa. This first-generation student is helping other UTSA students, like himself, navigate their way through college.

While pursuing a double major in Anthropology and Mexican American Studies at UTSA, Hinojosa serves as a peer mentor in the First to Go and Graduate program.

The initiative, which is part of the UTSA PIVOT for Academic Success program, matches first-generation students with a first-generation peer mentor and first-generation faculty coach. Students in the program interact with other first-generation students on campus and learn about internships, networking opportunities and the other resources available to help them succeed.

Hinojosa joined the program as a mentee after transferring to UTSA and said it was his faculty coach Marco Cervantes, associate professor in the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies, who encouraged him to pursue a major in Mexican American Studies.

“Working with my faculty coach, Dr. Cervantes, opened my eyes to the opportunities out there, and I wanted to become a peer mentor to share my experiences with other students,” said Hinojosa. “After talking to Dr. Cervantes, I’m now interested in attending graduate school. I saw all that he has accomplished.”

Hinojosa is getting the chance to work toward that goal. He was just accepted into the UTSA Mellon Humanities Pathways program, which exposes undergraduate students to humanities research methods, offers opportunities to participate in research studies, and provides professional development and mentoring. UTSA sociology professor Harriett Romo is leading the Mellon grant.

In addition, Hinojosa is the president of a student group called Students for Recovery, which is part of The Center for Collegiate Recovery at UTSA. As a former addict, he hopes to share his experiences and be a part of a support system on campus to help other students who are struggling. It is an important need, he says, that is often overlooked.

“I know, firsthand, the challenges these students face and I want to encourage them to never give up,” said Hinojosa.

The junior said he is interested in teaching anthropology one day and hopes to continue mentoring students who need extra encouragement to keep going and achieve their goals.

“I have made a lot of progress because of the encouraging and supportive faculty and programs that have been a part of my UTSA experience,” said Hinojosa. “I would tell other students that your past doesn’t define you. The sky is the limit.”