Monica Gomez Wants to Help First-gen Students Seeking Higher Ed.

September 22, 2021

Monica Gomez is currently the college readiness counselor in the Office of Recruitment and Admissions at NOVA’s Loudoun Campus. She celebrated 15 years at NOVA this past June, and she has worked in higher education since 2003, starting as a student services coordinator with the Universities at Shady Grove.

Born in the United States, she was raised by immigrant parents, one from Colombia and the other from Guatemala. They did not have a lot of formal education, and they stressed the importance of higher education beyond high school to their children. She understands that having supportive parents is a tremendous gift, and she wants to provide that support to others seeking to change their lives through education.

“The issue most important to me is helping first-generation, underrepresented, minoritized students learn how to access college and take advantage of all the benefits it offers to students,” she said. “In particular, the undocumented student population who face added barriers due to their immigration status is a group that needs guidance and resources to be able to access and succeed in college.”

Since she was a graduate student studying French and Spanish Language and Literature at University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, she has wanted to work at the community college level. “I truly believe in the mission to provide access to all who wish to pursue a college degree or certificate and to improve their lives,” she says.

The one piece of advice she would would pass along to a young person who may be the first in their family to attend college? “Find an adult at school or through a community organization that you can connect with for guidance on the college process.”

Monica has worked with an organization called VALHEN, the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network, for many years. VALHEN’s mission is to empower Latinx students in the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing them with the tools they need to access and succeed in college and beyond. “I started as a professional volunteer working with the Hispanic College Institute, a summer program offered to rising high school juniors and seniors to teach them about the college admissions process. I have also served as a scholarship co-chair and now, I sit on the board.”

When describing her life outside of NOVA, she says, “Not married. No kids. But I’m a proud aunt to a beautiful niece and three active nephews!”

Another Fun Fact: Before working in higher education, Monica worked as a flight attendant for American Airlines.

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