First Generation College Celebration


At North Central Texas College, 16.5% of students identify as first generation college students, meaning that neither of their parents attended college at all. This semester, over 1,500 students across our six campuses are the first in their families to attend college and NCTC offers many resources to help these students reach their educational goals.

TRIO Student Support Services is a federally-funded college opportunity program that motivates and supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a college degree. The program is dedicated to increasing the retention and graduation rates for first generation students at NCTC.

The NCTC Foundation also offers scholarship opportunities for these first generation students.

The stories below highlight our NCTC faculty, staff, students and alumni that are first generation college students.

Rochelle Gregory

Rochelle Gregory
Division Chair English, Speech & Foreign Languages

I am proud to be an example for my children.”

Rochelle Gregory grew up on a small farm in Dublin, TX. Her mom was a nurse, and her dad was a disabled vet who dropped out of school when he was 15-years-old. Her dreams far exceeded the pasture outside her home, and with the help of TRIO Upward Bound, she decided to enroll at Tarleton State University where she received her Bachelors & Masters in English. In 2009 she received her PH. D in Rhetoric from Texas Women’s University. Because of the example she set, her son graduated from NCTC this year, and is perusing a degree in math.

Bekah Sanchez

Bekah Sanchez
Grant Manager Tech Hire

“I found support and encouragement within the TRIO family and have dedicated the last twelve years to working with students in underrepresented populations.”

Bekah Sanchez was the first person in her family to earn a college degree. Motivated by her high school government teacher to explore her career possibilities, Bekah reflected and enrolled for her first semester of college at 30 years old. She was a TRIO McNair Scholar her junior year, and graduated with a Master’s of Science in political science. Rebekah found encouragement and support through TRIO, and has spent the last 12 years working with first generation, low-income, and minority students to show that they too can achieve their dreams.

Axel Leos

Axel Leos
Success Coach

I’m fortunate to be in a position to continue to support student success, especially with first generation students.”

Growing up, Axel Leos’ parents always stressed the importance of furthering his education. Their sacrifices and support were ultimately what led him to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Texas Wesleyan University, making him the first person in his family to graduate with a college degree. Today, Axel serves as a Success Coach within the Completion Center at North Central Texas College. He uses his story to help other first-time, first generation students reach educational success.

Patty Barrera

Patty Barrera
Dual Credit Coordinator

“Community colleges are such great assets to many people; especially those looking to become successful in a college setting.”

Patty Barrera was the first person in her family to graduate college. She started out her educational journey at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), but later transferred to a community college after being overwhelmed with the process. Patty later received her Bachelor of Arts in International Business in Spanish from UTA. She also went on to receive her Master’s in Education, and has earned multiple certifications that have brought her further into her career. Today, she is working on a Ph. D. and currently serves as the Dual Credit Coordinator for North Central Texas College.

Warren Mathis

Warren Mathis
Police Department Campus Support Liaison

I have a lot of folks to thank…but none of it would have been possible had I not taken the step forward to pursue a higher education.”

After growing up in rural southeastern Oklahoma, Warren always knew he wanted to further his education. Warren was always fascinated by electricity, so he decided to enroll at Eastern Oklahoma State College where he graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Electronics. After 46 years, Warren went on to receive an Associate Degree in Electrical Construction. Today, Warren is the Campus Support Liaison for NCTC’s police department.

Janet Mathis

Janet Mathis
Marketing & Public Relations Reprographics Center Department Assistant

I am proud to say that I am a first generation graduate and am glad I made NCTC my first choice.”

Janet Mathis was raised by a single mother in Aubrey, TX. She never thought to explore the idea of college because she was unaware about resources such as scholarships and financial aid. After being laid off from her job in 2003, Janet turned to unemployment. Janet was awarded a grant to go to college, and at 47-years-old, she found herself wandering the hallways of NCTC. She was able to finish her Business Management degree in 2 years, and started working at NCTC soon after. Today, she is a first-generation graduate, and the Reprographics Center Department Assistant for NCTC.

Nancy Zamora

Nancy Zamora
Director of TRIO SSS

I believe that being a first generation student means that you had the courage to step out of your comfort zone in order to push open the door to a better future not only for yourself, but also for your family.”

Raised in a family of eight, and parents with less than a middle school education, college was not a topic of conversation for Nancy Zamora's household. It was not until her first year of high school when Nancy was introduced to TRIO that the possibility of going to college started becoming a reality. Despite having all odds against her, with the help of the TRIO programs, Nancy was able to graduate high school and go on to college. Nancy received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from Texas State University and later received her Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from Texas A&M University – Commerce. She began her career with TRIO in 2010. Today, Nancy serves as Director of the TRIO SSS program for the North Central Texas College District, President of the Texas TRIO Association, and Board Member for the Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs (SWASAP). 

Camilia Dunn

Camilia Dunn
TRIO SSS Advisor

It is important for me to share that I am a first generation student to show others that they too can overcome their obstacles.”

Camilia Dunn is a first-generation student from Lufkin, TX. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of North Texas where she was also a TRIO Student Support Services student. She later went on to receive her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and is currently working toward becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor. Camilia serves as the TRIO Student Support Services Advisor at North Central Texas College.

Charise Bewley

Charise Bewley
Counselor & Academic Advisor

I can relate to many students…and I know that hardships and accomplishments I’ve endured have made me a better employee. I hope my story can help others to succeed.”

Charise Bewley is a proud “5th generation Graham, TX girl” and first generation student. Charise’s family was of low economic status, but stressed the importance of a good work ethic, community involvement, and civic engagement. Charise credits her mother as the driving motivator in her life. Inspired by her mother’s desire to see her children succeed, Charise decided to take the leap and enroll in college. After what she describes as an unsuccessful first semester, Charise decided to enroll in cosmetology school, going on to earn her license and begin a 12-year career. As her family grew, Charise began substituting at local schools for extra money, all the while, continuing her education at Vernon College and Midwestern State University, where she earned her Associate Degree in Teaching and Bachelor of Science, respectively. Upon graduating from MSU, Charise became a full-time elementary teacher and soon went on to earn her Master of Education in School Counseling. Charise holds certifications in 4-8 Generalist, ELAR, and ESL Supplemental education in addition to a School Counselor Certification. Charise is currently enrolled at Schreiner University where she will complete an advanced degree in Educational Leadership and earn her Principal Certification. Charise remains active in her community and has inspired her children to pursue higher education. Charise currently serves North Central Texas College as a Counselor at the Graham campus.

Terrie Ogle Moss

Terrie Ogle Moss
Success Coach & Career Readiness Specialist

I am proud to be the first in my family to attend college.”

Terrie Ogle Moss grew up in Jacksboro, TX. Her parents had little education, and she was the first person in her family to go to college. Terrie graduated from Jacksboro High School, and went on to earn her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Computer Information Systems and Secondary Education from Tarleton State University. She later went on to obtain her Masters in Educational Leadership from Midwestern State University. Terrie currently serves as a Success Coach in the Completion Center at NCTC’s Bowie and Graham campuses.

Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson
Admission Technical Assistant

“My mom always wanted her children to have more opportunities than she had.”

Patricia Johnson is a proud first generation college student and graduate from Decatur High School. Although her mom quit school and got married at a young age, she always wanted better for her and her siblings. Patricia will graduate with an Associate of Arts degree from NCTC in Spring 2020.

Daisy Garcia

Daisy Garcia
Director of Student Life

“As a student at NCTC, my path was as clear as mud, but I want students to know that with determination and support, they too can succeed.”

Not only is Daisy Garcia a first generation student, but an NCTC alumna. Despite not knowing where college would take her, Daisy was able to receive her Associate of Science degree in General Studies, and move on to earn her Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of North Texas. Daisy is currently working toward earning her Master’s degree.

Yvonne Sandman

Yvonne Sandman
OSS Student Success Specialist

I struggled the first year of college, but was determined to finish and be the first person in my family to have a college degree.”

Yvonne Sandman was born in Muenster, Texas. She knew from an early age that she wanted to go to college, and knew her family would not be able to help her. She was determined, so she saved her money from working two jobs and took a dual credit history class at her high school. She struggled the first year of college, but was determined to finish and be the first person in her family to have a college degree. She received her Associate Degree in Applied Science from NCTC, and her Bachelors at the University of North Texas. Yvonne currently works within the Office for Students with Disabilities at NCTC.

Daniel McLean

Daniel McLean
Alumni

“I hope my son understands that a life devoted to learning is a life without boundaries.”

As a first-generation college student, Daniel McLean realized that his life might represent a pivotal moment is his family’s history. As a student at NCTC, Daniel found support within TRIO Student Support Services, and went on to earn his associate degree and become a Terry Scholar. Daniel is currently attending Texas Woman’s University where he hopes to earn his bachelor’s degree.

Emily Jackson

Emily Jackson
Student

TRIO has been a tremendous asset to me as a first generation student and has helped me navigate through college.”

Emily Jackson is a first-generation student at NCTC and a participant in the TRIO Student Support Services program at the Gainesville campus. With the help of TRIO, Emily plans to transfer to the University of North Texas to major in Business/Marketing. She hopes to pursue a career in marketing as an advertiser or creative director.

Mary Martinson

Mary Martinson
Dean of Student Success, Mathematics & Kinesiology

I enjoy helping students find loop holes towards succes and…joy, grace, forgiveness, and mindfulness in this crazy world.”

Mary (Herring) Martinson is a first-generation student, and the youngest of seven children. Her father was a welder and a WWII veteran, and her mother passed away when she was just seven years old. Neither parent graduated high school. Through a recommendation from her high school, Mary was chosen for the JTPA (Job Training Partnership Act) program at Vernon Regional Junior College (VRJC), a summer youth program for at risk youth. Once she completed her basic courses at VRJC, Mary transferred to Texas Tech University. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1993 and earned her master’s from the University of North Texas in 1996. Today, Mary serves as the Dean of Student Success, Mathematics & Kinesiology.

Daneè Mitchell

Daneè Mitchell
Success Coach

“I want to continue to support first- time, first generation students reach their academic and career goals.”

Daneè Mitchell is a first generation student from Lewisville, Texas. Daneè received an Associate of Science from Paris Junior College before transferring to the University of Oklahoma for her Bachelor of Arts in Communication. After working with an Upward Bound TRIO program, she went on to receive her Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Today, Daneè serves as a Success Coach for the Completion Center on the NCTC Flower Mound campus.

Maricela Hernandez

Maricela Hernandez
Current Student

“I live everyday by my father’s guiding words, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

Maricela Hernandez is first-generation nursing student and TRIO Student Support Services participant at North Central Texas College. Maricela is a mother of seven, and hopes to not only set an example for her children, but for anyone who thinks it is too late to follow their dreams and pursue an education. Aside from being a student, Maricela currently works at a nursing facility in Flower Mound.

Saul Segovia

Saul Segovia
Alumni

“My goal is to continue to do what I love, and work with athletes on the collegiate & professional level.”

Saul started his college education at North Central Texas College where he graduated with an Associate Degree in General Studies in 2017. Today, Saul is attending the University of North Texas where he is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sports Medicine. Through his internship program, Saul has been given the opportunity to work with division one athletes and practice what he loves. He will be graduating from UNT in Spring 2020 and plans to pursue a master’s degree, specializing in Sports Medicine.

Christian Childress

Christian Childress
Current Student

“My college experience has allowed me to broaden my social, economic, and career opportunities.”

Christian Childress is a first generation student and sophomore at NCTC. As a first generation college student, Christian is excited to dare the dream of attending college, a dream that was not afforded to her parents. As a single mother of 3, making her college dream a reality is important to her. She knows that this will not only allow her to go further in life, but it will change the dynamic of her family history forever, especially for her children. Thanks to TRIO, she will be continuing her education at the University of North Texas in Spring 2020, and entering into the UNT School of Business, as a Junior.