For Genesis Ortiz, life is full of firsts. She is the first in her immediate family to go to college – where she is studying civic and economic thought and leadership at Arizona State University. She just finished her first year in college, and she just signed a lease for her first apartment.

Originally from Avondale, Arizona, this first-generation student has been working with Education at Work for almost a full year.

“Even though my mom didn’t go to college, she knew it’s what she wanted for her kids,” Genesis says. “She’s always been on top of joining mom groups, asking her friends at work, asking how they did it for their kids. I had a lot of help from my mom and from my older cousin – she’s a year ahead of me so she went through it before me as a first-generation student as well.”

Genesis’ close relationship with her mother and the rest of her family inspired her to succeed and has been, she says, a constant source of support. Genesis is the oldest of four, with three younger brothers all relatively close in age to her.

She says EAW has continually taught her professionalism and real-world skills to help her in her field. “At work, at EAW, with supervisors and student leaders, they’ve all been super helpful because they’ve gone through all of this. My supervisor was a super big help – they’re always there."

Heading into her second year at ASU, Genesis says her hard work and support system has helped her reach multiple opportunities she may not have had otherwise. As she builds her resume with EAW, Genesis has signed a lease on her first apartment and was selected to participate in a study-abroad trip to Jerusalem with the ASU school of social work in summer, 2021.

Going forward, Genesis wants to continue to learn from ASU and EAW – navigating a definitive path between law and social work after she gains her undergraduate degree.

“I want to graduate with my bachelor’s in whatever I decide to pursue,” Genesis says. “My first goal, is to obtain my education and then I’ll go from there.”

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