Running the race

Bridget Linton

Perseverance, resilience, resourcefulness and hard work are a few of the key factors that have guided African American University of Akron student Bianca Gomez on her journey to success. Gomez comes from a family that has given her unwavering support and guidance throughout her life. With her powerful motivation and drive, Gomez is the first in her family to attend college.

Gomez grew up in Cleveland with her parents and two siblings. As the oldest child in her family, she has served as a positive role model in her siblings’ lives. She said that she always knew that she would go to college and hoped that she would continue to help guide
her siblings.

“My parents have always trusted my drive and knowledge,” Gomez said. “There has never been any expectation of failure from my family. They have always known that I would make something of myself.”

The University of Akron was the first college Gomez visited. She was satisfied with what Akron had to offer and decided to enroll in classes, making history in her family. As a first generation college student, Gomez entered UA with limited knowledge about the culture and college atmosphere.

“I had no preparation prior to attending my first set of classes at Akron,” Gomez said. “I was just thrown into the college life. I knew I had to make the best of my experience and learn as much as I could.”

Gomez has tried hard to maximize her performance in college. She has been a resident assistant (RA) on campus for three years. She said that being an RA has given her the opportunity to expose herself in the diverse community at UA and has also helped to keep her focused and develop strong leadership skills.

Aside from being an RA, Gomez has stayed involved on campus by being a member of the Student African American Sisterhood (SAAS) and serving as a peer mentor for multicultural development.

“The African American Sisterhood made me feel so welcome and has made me feel like I have a special role in life,” Gomez said. “It is nice to be surrounded by people who look like me and who have reached incredible success in life. This is an organization that enhances career opportunities and improves the views of African American women on campus.”

SAAS helped Gomez gain knowledge of her culture, mature as a person and find her purpose in life. It led her to become a peer mentor, where she can provide proper resources to incoming freshmen to help them make the most of their experience at The University of Akron.

Gomez will graduate with a degree in Special Education and says that she wants to work with black males that suffer from emotional disturbance. This issue is close to her heart because her 19-year-old brother struggles with this same disability. Seeing what he has to go through encouraged her to go into special education.

“I have developed a strong pride in my culture and have learned the importance of history from a black perspective,” Gomez said. “I want to help other black males that suffer from emotional disturbance see this and show them that there are people just like them who have reached success; this will keep them more engaged and make them want to succeed.”

Gomez’s advice to all first-generation students is to stay open-minded and get involved. She says to take advantage of mentoring programs to help navigate the college terrain and feel connected. Finding another first-generation student who has already been in the same shoes can be especially helpful.