Meet Higher Education graduate Norma Marquez, a passionate mentor to first-generation students | School of Education

Meet Higher Education graduate Norma Marquez, a passionate mentor to first-generation students | School of Education

Please tell us a bit about yourself

I was born and raised in rural Texas where I attended and graduated from the University of North Texas as a first-generation student. I have dedicated a lot of my work serving first-generation students in non-profit, for-profit and publicly funded educational settings. I currently work as the High School Program Manager for the Pre-Collegiate Program at CU Denver. I have always believed every student has the right to affordable and accessible education and I wanted to continue to help first-generation students achieve post-secondary education. This is why I chose the Master’s in Higher Education (MAHE) program at CU-Boulder. I chose this program as I truly believe it allows any higher education professional to gain insights of all aspects of the student/staff role in higher education. I live in Castle Pines, and the commute was worth it every single time.” 

What is one of the most significant lessons from your time at CU Boulder that you’ll carry with you into the next chapter of your life?

The impact that education can have on a community. Because of the lessons gained through the MAHE program, I was able to assist many of my students at CU Denver  and influence them in ways I would not have been able to without this program. I never thought about the trickle effect education carries, but I will certainly carry this throughout the next chapter of my life.” 

What does graduating from CU Boulder represent for you or your family/community?

My parents immigrated to Texas in the ’90s and are originally from Guanajuato, Mexico. They have both worked very physically demanding jobs, mostly as dairy farmers, throughout their lives to give me and my siblings a better life and opportunities. My siblings and I would not be the successful professionals we are today without their sacrifices. I also took a huge leap of faith when moving out of my parents’ home and coming to Colorado with my partner four years ago. I had no idea I would be going back to school. Graduating from CU Boulder with a master’s degree further validates all the sacrifices, obstacles and challenges my family and I have faced while trying to make a better life and establish ourselves in this country. This further exemplifies how education is the best way out of generational poverty for our communities. I would not be where I am today in my career had it not been for this program.” 

What is your best piece of advice for incoming students?

No matter how much imposter syndrome you may have, BE CONFIDENT IN YOURSELF. I came in with so much imposter syndrome, thinking I didn’t have the skills to succeed. Honestly, I was afraid I wasn’t even going to finish. This program is more than just a classroom, it is a community where you are fully supported in being your authentic self.” 

What are your next steps after graduation?

This program left me with a desire to learn more about how to support historically marginalized students and their desires to achieve post-secondary education. I was accepted in the Educational Doctoral Program at CU Denver with a focus on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Education. I will begin my program this summer and I am very excited to continue my education. I will also continue my role as Program Manager for the Pre-Collegiate Center at CU Denver and use what I have learned in my program to find new ways to continue to support my students.” 

Marquez Photo Collage #1

Marquez Photo Collage #2

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