First-generation student Lupe Lazaro ’24 communicates value of Gettysburg College education

Lupe Lazaro ’24
Lupe Lazaro ’24

In 2018, during her senior year of high school, Lupe Lazaro ’24 was introduced to Gettysburg College by Darryl Jones, who previously served Gettysburg College’s Office of Admissions for 35 years and frequently traveled to the New York City area to meet with prospective students.

“He was always in my high school and became a familiar face,” said Lazaro, a first-generation college student from The Young Women’s Leadership School in Manhattan, New York City. “Once senior year approached, we had so many conversations on what my college plans were and what I wanted to do.”  

While Lazaro was initially firm about staying in New York City close to her family, Jones encouraged her to apply to schools outside the city and invited her to experience A Consequential Education at Gettysburg College.

“‘I think you should give it a shot anyway and gain new experiences,’” Lazaro recalled Jones telling her and later visited campus several times. “It felt like everyone I spoke to seemed to care about me beyond whether I was going to come to Gettysburg or not. They were interested in what I wanted to do with my life and where I saw myself. They actually cared.”

“When I came back to campus in 2019,” she continued, “it was the first time I’d ever seen the stars. I love the stars, but I live in New York City. On my bus ride home, I applied Early Decision immediately because I knew [seeing the stars] was my sign.”

At Gettysburg, Lazaro, a psychology major with minors in sociology and Spanish, learned to balance all her coursework and activities. She wanted to unite the best of her academic and co-curricular experiences by seeking opportunities to help others. For Lazaro, community service, including through Greek life and during her time as the Panhellenic Council president, helped her find her place within Gettysburg College’s community.

One of her most impactful experiences was working with the Center for Public Service during her sophomore year. She sat down with juniors and seniors in local high schools and encouraged them to grasp opportunities for post-secondary education, even beyond the state of Pennsylvania, just like Jones did for her. Many were first-generation students like her, with immigrant parents unfamiliar with post-secondary education opportunities.

“Seeing the then-juniors graduating was huge for me because I was following them through going to college,” she said. “It’s been an exercise in learning how to step into your own power and understand that you can make a difference. It doesn’t mean a huge overnight change, but just sitting with a student and encouraging them to apply to college. Getting other first-generation students hope and confidence has achieved so much.”

Lupe Lazaro
Lupe Lazaro ’24 served as a Gettysburg community liaison and media specialist with the Latin American Student Association (LASA).

Lazaro has also served as a community liaison and media specialist with the Latin American Student Association (LASA), an organization connected with the Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies Department, gaining intercultural fluency in Latino heritage and traditions and celebrating Gettysburg’s Latino history. Through her work, she encouraged students to pursue their dreams and embrace their roots.

On campus, Lazaro worked as a student tour guide for the Office of Admissions, a role in which she sat down with prospective students for lunch to discuss what they’re looking for in a college and to help them find their place. She also participated in several senior panels, including Get Acquainted Day, for students and families. Through her work with Admissions, Lazaro especially takes pride in giving families representing people of color (POC) the Gettysburg experience during their visits.

“We’re the first people prospective students and families alike interact with. It was so scary for me, being a first-generation student. I have never gone on college tours because my parents would never be able to understand them. They didn’t speak English, so admissions was a scary place for me,” said Lazaro. “Coming into the space, I didn’t want other POC women to be scared. I want to be somebody people see and say, ‘She did it. How do I get there?’”

“Gettysburg holistically rounds you out because you get many experiences in many different realms of life. It teaches you a lot inside and outside of the classroom.”
Lupe Lazaro ’24

Every day, Lazaro is grateful to talk with students about how Gettysburg will fit within their journey to personal and professional fulfillment through the Gettysburg Approach. She experienced firsthand the value of receiving a breadth and depth of knowledge and set of enduring skills. As a result, Lazaro strengthened her confidence to embrace her future, something she always shared with prospective students.

“Gettysburg offers students the ability to holistically develop as a person through the fact that you can be involved in many different activities and realms,” she said. “My Admissions side has nothing to do with my Greek life side, but they both strengthen different pieces of myself. Gettysburg teaches you a lot inside and outside of the classroom.”

With her time at Gettysburg completed, she will now apply her acquired knowledge and skills, including problem solving, to her role as a project leader at the New York Botanical Garden in environmental science research.

“A Gettysburg education taught me that I can’t just give up,” said Lazaro. “There’s not always one set answer or solution to go about things … and there’s always a different manner to approach something.”

Learn how Gettysburg College invites students to unite knowledge and enduring skills as they explore their academic and co-curricular curiosities.

By Katie Lauriello ’25
Photos by Abbey Frisco
Posted: 05/16/24