Jack Elizondo: 5 pieces of advice to help First Ascent Scholars succeed

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Jack Elizondo: 5 pieces of advice to help First Ascent Scholars succeed

Being the first person in your family to graduate from college is definitely something to be proud of, but getting there can come with its own set of challenges.

It’s an experience well known to Jack Elizondo, who recently shared his experience with the First Ascent Scholars. Here are a few takeaways:

Lean on your family, and get help where you can

Elizondo’s family background had not necessarily prepared him for college. His parents — a carpenter and a waitress — were highly intelligent but didn’t have much formal education. The idea of attending the University of Utah came when Elizondo was a student at Salt Lake City’s West High, where he made friends with several students who planned to go to the U. His parents were thrilled that their “Jacky” might get to go to college, and encouraged him to apply and, once accepted, attend.

Elizondo struggled once he reached the University, but his family encouraged him and helped support him — both emotionally and financially — so he could focus on school. He also applied for financial aid from federal and state-run programs. He urged the First Ascent Scholars to explore scholarship and financial aid options that might help them in their journey.

Don’t be afraid to start from the bottom and work your way up

Elizondo struggled when he began at the U, spending hours and hours studying, but without the grades to reflect it. He dropped out at one point, taking a construction job for the winter. But once again, good friends intervened. They encouraged him to return and take lower-level classes, including a study-skills class, to help him gain the skills he needed. That marked a turning point in his academic career, and he was able to graduate with a 3.2 “but with the amount of work I put into it, it really felt like a 4.0.”

Surround yourself with others who lift you up

Elizondo’s high school friends were the ones who first made him believe he might be able to attend college, and they continued to offer a support network when he felt like it was too difficult. He also was able to bond with some of the other minority students, and “together, we helped each other work toward graduation.” First Ascent Scholars should take advantage of the support offered by their staff advisors, but also one another.

Your degree can take you in so many different directions

Elizondo graduated with one degree and worked for the same company — Dominion Energy, formerly known as Questar — for 35 years. But during that time, he’s had three different career paths. He first started in the planning department, where he worked for 15 years. He then moved to marketing, where he spent time lobbying the Utah Legislature. For the last 10 years, he has been in the property and facilities department. “It was always very difficult, very difficult to change one job and move into new opportunities, but I did, and I loved it.”

Seize the opportunity before you

“I believe that my business education provided many opportunities to me and to my family. It provided opportunities for employment advancements, networking and community involvement.” Elizondo encouraged all First Ascent Scholars to make the most of their time at the David Eccles School of Business, and then to pay it forward once they have achieved success by helping future First Ascent Scholars.

“I will conclude with this, scholars, the First Ascent Scholars Program has offered the necessary tools for your success. All that is needed from you is the attitude that says ‘Yes, I can.’ All you need is the will to win.”

2019-11-27T16:57:04-07:00April 10th, 2018|

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