University of North Texas

Roberto Arriola (2010)

My First Generation Story

I graduated from Montwood High School in El Paso, Texas, in 2007, and now I am a senior in the University of North Texas’ bilingual education program. I also am part of the inaugural class of Emerald Eagle Scholars. The scholars are students who are academically talented and have high financial need. As a scholar, I receive four years of tuition and fees, as well as mentoring and support. I have a twin sister, who is in the bilingual education program at the University of Texas at Austin, and an older sister who is at the University of Texas at El Paso.

I try not to let the fact that I’m a first-generation student slow me down. I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in education, so that I can become a superintendent and an advocate for marginalized programs.

When I first arrived at UNT in the fall of 2007, as one of the members of the inaugural class of Emerald Eagle Scholars, I thought that I wanted to pursue a degree in music education. However, during a class trip to a local elementary school, I realized that I had an even greater passion than singing. It was while I was working with the school kids that I realized there was an urgent need for positive Hispanic male role models in the Texas schools. Soon after that experience, I changed my major to bilingual education. I was in bilingual education classes until fifth grade, and I remember how difficult it was to master two languages simultaneously, so I really wanted to help these kids out.

I am very grateful for the opportunities that I have been given. My siblings and I are taking our family in a whole new direction, both socially and economically. We are very excited to be breaking the ice and setting higher standards for our family.

Both UNT and the state of Texas have been supportive of me and opened doors that otherwise would have been much more difficult to open on my own. Without my Emerald Eagle scholarship I would have pursued higher education, but earning my degree would have been much more difficult. As an Emerald Eagle Scholar, I have been able to focus on my education without having to worry about accumulating thousands of dollars of debt.

UNT has provided me with all of the resources that I need to succeed. I have everything paid for, and I also have unlimited access to a number of other resources including the UNT Career Center, the UNT Learning Center and the Emerald Eagle Suite. I also continue to have a good relationship with the mentors that I was paired with my freshman year.

I also am grateful for the support of UNT’s bilingual education program. The program is very individualized and the faculty and staff really look out for the students. When I graduate next fall, I want to look for a teaching job and a master’s program in central Texas. I’d love to teach third, fourth or fifth grade because those years are critical for bilingual students.

Bilingual students typically come to you a year behind, and sixth grade is typically the last year that bilingual courses are offered, so fourth and fifth grade is the last chance to get kids up to grade level before they are exited from the program. I want to help these kids make the connections between English and Spanish. I want to push them to be more fluent.

About the Student

FGV: Roberto Arriola

Roberto Arriola graduated from Montwood High School in El Paso, Texas, in 2007. He is a senior in the University of North Texas’ bilingual education program and is also part of the inaugural class of Emerald Eagle Scholars. The scholars are academically talented students that have high financial need. They receive four years of tuition and fees, as well as mentoring and support. Arriola is the president of the Emerald Eagle Scholars Organization. He has a twin sister, who is in the bilingual education program at the University of Texas at Austin, and an older sister who is at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Student Stats

Name: Roberto Arriola (2010)
Age: 21
Year in School: Junior
Major: Bilingual Education
Favorite Course: Intro to Early Childhood
Dream Job: Superintendent and an advocate for marginalized programs

About the School

FGV: University of North Texas

As one of Texas' largest universities, we offer 97 bachelor's, 101 master's and 48 doctoral degree programs. By providing access, welcoming diversity and strengthening our collaborations with our many educational, business and community partners, as well as building new partnerships across the globe, UNT's faculty and staff work each day to prepare students for the challenges they will meet in our changing world.

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