First-Gen Faculty & Staff

Gabriella Santos

Gabriella Santos

Student Financial Services Counselor & Veterans Certifying Official
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


BA Business Administration - Small Business Law & BA Sports Administration, Washington State University, 2003
MA Sports Administration and Leadership, Seattle University, 2009


What does being first-gen mean to you?

My parents and extended family were so proud. I knew I could do it, but having their support, even thought they didn't understand the process meant the world.

What challenges/barriers have you faced or overcome during college?

My family didn't understand financial aid process and ended up filled out the FAFSA incorrectly. At a large state school I was a number and told "oh well, you can't change it now. better luck next year". I felt very isolated trying to navigate the finances of an education.

What resource(s) or support helped you to be successful?

My sophomore year my grades plummeted. Thankfully I had caring professors that thought I had a learning disability and encouraged me to get testing and connected me to the disability resource center. I received the testing and with a determination on the type of learning disability I have was able to get the proper assistance and my grades came back up to what they should have been.

Do you have an inspirational quote that helped guide you through college?

not really - just knowing I needed to finish for my Dad. He passed away before I started high school and it was always his dream to see me finish college.

What advice would you give to someone else who is also first-gen?

While it can be scary to put yourself out there, take a chance. Make a new friend. Talk to different staff, faculty or offices if you have a question or are needing help. That's what they are there for, is to assist students with no judgment in a safe space.