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Beacon Scholars' mission is to serve as a community for all first-generation students through holistic advising, mentorship, and leadership opportunities to promote retention, persistence, and graduation at the University of Utah. Our vision is to inspire and engage first-generation students to be rooted in and to serve our communities. 

If neither of your parent(s) or guardian(s) graduated with a four-year or bachelor's degree from a college or university from within the U.S., we consider you as a first-generation student and invite you to be part of our Beacon Scholars family!


If you'd like to schedule a meeting, meet other first-generation students and staff, and/or learn about our program, please contact:

Linda Paternina-Serrano
Beacon Scholars Program Manager

Emilio Manuel Camu
Beacon Scholars Adviser

2019-2020 Beacon Scholars Cohort Leaders

Leaders are students who take on all aspects of curriculum development and program planning for Beacon Scholars. The four leaders are responsible for recruiting and selecting program participants, training mentors, developing the curriculum, and planning networking events. Leaders facilitate the classes and innovate along the way. 


Gloria Aceves

Oralia Aguilar

Edward Bobadilla

Sinndy Castro

First-Year Scholars are paired with established U student mentors to help them get on the inside track and quickly learn the tricks of navigating University systems. First-years attend a class designed to help introduce and connect them with the multitude of resources and opportunities available on campus. Mentees, alongside their mentor, will be challenged to develop or participate in a community project that is ongoing and has a substantial impact. Beacon mentees become members of a family and have the opportunity to build close relationships, develop leadership skills, make a difference in the community, and have fun along the way.

Independent Scholars are second-, third-, fourth-, fifth-year and transfer students, those who are new to the Beacon Scholars program, or those who have previously been an independent, a mentor, or a leader and want to stay involved while pursuing more independent projects and professional development. 

Mentor Scholars are established University of Utah students who want to share their experience and hard-earned wisdom to help incoming students adapt quickly and efficiently to university life. Mentors provide incoming students with tips, tricks, and advice on how to get the most out of the university. Mentors are also a friendly face and a social ambassador, who helps ease the transition of becoming one of 30,000 students on this campus. Mentors work in tandem with their mentee on the development and completion of an engagement project. Mentors also participate in a class with their peers aimed at helping to enhance their mentoring through training, peer support, and problem solving.

Career & Graduation Preparation Scholars participate in a yearlong program which will focus on exploring and preparing for the next steps after graduation. Students will discuss and explore the value and merit of a graduate education and learn tips for choosing a program that will help them achieve their career goals. We will also focus on preparing to be competitive in the job market. Students will learn skills for "landing" that first job. Additionally, students will participate in training workshops which focus on workplace skills that are necessary in every career (i.e. project management, conflict resolution, leading from limited power, workplace computer skills).

Updates coming soon! If you have any immediate questions about internships, please contact Linda Paternina-Serrano at

The Beacon Scholars program offers sponsorship to students who are appealing an admissions decision. If you would like to discuss the sponsorship process, please contact Emilio Manuel Camu at

Last Updated: 6/2/21