University of Central Florida

George Walters-Marrah (2020)

My First Generation Story

I am a first generation American as well as a first generation college student. My family moved to the United States from Jamaica in the ’80s; therefore, my siblings, cousins and I are the first natural-born U.S. citizens in our family. Because of my low-income background, I had few resources to develop my interests until I made it to college. But, through my participation in the Learning Environment and Academic Research Network (LEARN) and the Ronald E. McNair Scholars program, I have benefited greatly from mentors that have helped me navigate higher education.

I started my first year at the University of Central Florida (UCF) determined to take advantage of all opportunities and resources at my disposal. I have studied pathogens through the lenses of microbiology, biochemistry and structural biology, and brought into each lab my fascination with developing computational tools to improve lab productivity and facilitate scientific discovery. As a result, I've participated in three research internships, presented at 12 research conferences/meetings, acquired three research grants, secured an American Society for Microbiology research fellowship and received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

During this time, I was accepted into the Student Undergraduate Research Council (SURC). My goal was to develop, strengthen and expand undergraduate research awareness at UCF by promoting research at workshops, tabling events and speaking engagements. My favorite memory as a SURC member was presenting my college experience to a group of underrepresented high school juniors on a campus visit. Speaking with students who shared my background further motivated me to pursue leadership positions in mentoring and advising students from underserved communities.

To this end, I became a mentor for the LEARN program and an advisor for Academic Advancement Programs (AAP) Graduate School Preparation. As a LEARN mentor, I support nine freshman college students from underrepresented communities through one-to-one mentoring and goal setting. As an AAP peer advisor, I help prepare underrepresented, low-income, and first generation students to pursue graduate school through individualized advising meetings and the creation of focused academic plans. In addition, I also facilitate graduate preparation workshops, present at speaking events, and actively recruit students who may benefit from our programs. As a doctoral student and later, as a faculty member, I hope to continue to engage in and develop programs that encourage and assist students from underrepresented communities to pursue higher education.

About the Student

George Walters-Marrah

George Walters-Marrah was born and raised in Miami, Florida. He is currently a senior molecular microbiology major at the University of Central Florida. His goals include pursuing a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, becoming a principal investigator and overseeing programs involved in introducing students from underrepresented communities to higher education.

Student Stats

Name: George Walters-Marrah (2020)
Age: 22
Year in School: Senior
Major: Molecular Microbiology
Favorite Course: Principles of Infectious Disease
Dream Job: Principal Investigator

About the School

UCF logo

The University of Central Florida is a public multi-campus, metropolitan research university, dedicated to serving its surrounding communities with their diverse and expanding populations, technological corridors, and international partners. The mission of the university is to offer high-quality undergraduate and graduate education, student development, and continuing education; to conduct research and creative activities; and to provide services that enhance the intellectual, cultural, environmental, and economic development of the metropolitan region, address national and international issues in key areas, establish UCF as a major presence, and contribute to the global community.



  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662