Fabio Pena

Online MBA student builds first gen mentoring network one campus at a time Fabio PenaFabio Peña is a first generation (first gen) Latinx Online MBA student and co-founder and CEO of management consultancy Peña & Co.

The 28-year-old is working on expanding FirstHub, Peña & Co’s network that connects first gens with mentors who’ve been on the same journey. FirstHub has a presence in over 100 campuses nationwide.

How do you define first gen?

‘The most common definition is an individual who was first in their family to attend university. But it can also extend to individuals who were first in their family to be an entrepreneur.’

What is your first gen story?

‘My parents worked in agriculture and one summer, when I was in high school, they had me accompany them on their work in the fields. They wanted me to have a taste of their lives which were spent sourcing and maintaining cherries. It was my first labor job in agriculture, and it was hard.

Most people from my background are expected to work after graduating from high school to provide for their families. However, my parents and mentors encouraged me to dream bigger.

I was determined not to be another Mexican immigrant working in the fields. I am the first person in my family to graduate from university and, when I graduate in 2023, the first to earn an MBA.’

What should people know about first gens?

Meet Our FirstHub Mentors like Jessica Mora Financial Analyst Author Chicago IL‘That it can be a culture shock for us navigating life, especially in university. Since we’re the first in our families to have these experiences, we sometimes don’t know how to act or react. We don’t have stories from our families of how they adjusted to school; everything is totally new.’

Another thing is we get stereotyped. People unfamiliar with first gens think we all have similar struggles and issues when they differ from individual to individual.’

What’s different about FirstHub as a mentor program?

‘Finding mentors on campus is challenging because we can’t always find someone who’s been on a similar path or comes from a background similar to ours. FirstHub’s goal is to create individualized support for first gens. We broker mentor matches that will initiate genuine and authentic relationships, in order to light the path to success. It’s the equivalent of Match.com but for first gens, minus the dating aspect.’

What advice do you have for other first-gens who want to replicate your journey?

‘Be persistent. As first gens we often get rejected and it’s easy to be discouraged. Just keep trying. The worst that can happen is if they say no.’

Follow Peña & Co's journey on Instagram as they build their first gen network. The deadline to apply for the Winter 2022 semester of Albers' online MBA program is Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Schedule a call with an Admissions Advisor if you have any questions about the application requirements or the curriculum for the 100% online MBA program.

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