BY: BRAULIS PIMENTEL
A Latino junior at USC Upstate, Andres Villegas, takes pride in his culture and excels in leadership opportunities as a first-generation student. Villegas is currently the President of the Latin American Student Organization and is expected to graduate in December 2023.
A lot of Hispanic-American students that attend Upstate are first-generation students like Villegas. He’s able to help these students through LASO as the organization is able to empower students to realize their fullest potential and to impact the world through awareness, acceptance, support, and development amongst the LatinX community. LASO’s purpose is to strive to create a family where those identified as LatinX/Hispanic feel welcomed and supported.
Members in LASO like Villegas, have been inspired to succeed in college and future endeavors to make an impact in the hispanic community and make their parents proud.
“My parents have had a great impact on my life. They are my support, not only financially, but also emotionally. Even though they don’t understand much about college they are still there to support and encourage me to do my best. My dream is to make them proud,” Villegas said.
Villegas is driven by his parents’ sacrifices that have allowed him to be where he is today. He’s grateful for the opportunities that he’s been able to acquire due to their hard work.
“My mom once told me ‘everything I do is for you to achieve your dream of becoming a cardiac surgeon. I don't care if that means having to work all day. I just want you to be happy, because seeing you happy makes me happy.’ I owe everything to my mom, I am here because of her and no one else,” Villegas said.
As Villegas gets closer to graduation, he is focused on impacting other lives with all the knowledge he’s gained and being open-minded with faith that he will lead in the right direction no matter what it may be.
“Having my mind set on my goals has gotten me this far and it will continue to help me by looking out for as many opportunities as I can and not being afraid to come out of my comfort zone and trusting God that everything will fall into place in the future,” Villegas said.