As the University of Utah’s commencement passes, students anxiously prepare for their post-graduation goals. Elizabeth Morales is one of them, but she’s different from the average graduate.

Morales is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies in communication. As a first-generation college student and having been accepted to four different university’s masters programs, her goals don’t end at graduation.

Throughout her college experience at the U, she has been heavily involved in many student organizations.

One of her greatest accomplishments on campus includes her involvement with Lassonde Entrepreneur Studios. There, she was able to work for four years to begin a mentor cohort. This cohort enables students to take advantage of the resources they have on campus to help them succeed. On a student’s third year, they will be exposed to scholarship opportunities where they will be able to reach out to other students about college and the resources they will have available. They are then able to mentor other students on campus and give them a mentorship experience, creating a domino effect.

Morales has also been able to be a student director for the Presidential Ambassador cohort. She worked with the Pershing family in the school’s food pantry, a part of the Huntsman Cancer Institute Program as a Program Coordinator for the PathMaker Research Program, and worked with Career Services. Through doing so, she was able to find balance and programs that would fit her career and personal goals.

Morales was awarded the Youthlinc Top 5 Humanitarian Award, which celebrates outstanding humanitarian service among youth, sponsored by the U’s George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.

One of the pivotal experiences in her life that helped shape her future decisions and involvement she had in high school. She joined her first program, Latinos In Action (LIA), where she was able to mentor students and experience the non-profit goal of helping them achieve in school.

“Liz comes back every year to talk to my classes and helps other students reach their goals. She wants others to be successful and she has made a difference in the lives of many, many others, including myself. I love Liz and I know she will continue to change lives for the better as she pursues her career”, said Lauren Hill Rojas, Morales’ former LIA instructor.

After she graduates in May, she will pursue her master’s degree for the next two years at Colorado State University. She will be in their Higher Education through Student Affairs program.

“I was beyond proud of Liz when she told me she was accepted to all four of the master’s programs that she applied for because I knew she deserved it with all the hard work and dedication she has put into her four undergrad years at the University of Utah”, said Morales’ resident, Bailey Dorrance.

With big goals come big dreams. She will be working toward her goal of becoming the president of a university or vice president of student affairs at a university. She dreams to also work with first generation students in underrepresented communities as well as undocumented students.

Kari Ellingson, Morales’ mentor and past supervisor expresses the incorporation she’ll give to society, “Her chosen field of Student Affairs and High Education will be richer because she’s in it. Her innovative ways of thinking, her commitment to helping others, especially those who may not have had access to higher education in the past, her ability to put others at ease and good humor while doing more than her share — these are needed in the years ahead and I see a very bright future for Liz.”

In order to accomplish her dream, she has her next steps mapped out. After graduating with her master’s degree, she will take time off before pursuing her Ph.D. to be involved in a non-profit organization to gain a greater understanding of the conflicts students in international countries faces. Ideally, she would love to spend time in Latin America. She then will enter the workforce so she can have the experience to enhance her skills and become a “good fit” in her career.

“She’s a believer in trying to make the world a better place, and she’s the type of person that our children need as role models. She’s true to her values and morals which helps her succeed on what she loves to do even more.”, said Morales’ childhood friend Jennifer Gomez.

Advice Morales has for students is to ask for help and to become involved. She states, “You shouldn’t know every single answer. Find mentors who are different from you to gain a different perspective. Attend events. These events helped steer me toward my degree. I often found myself saying ‘yes’ to new events and opportunities.”

She added, “Get out of your comfort zone and get to know as many people as you can.”

c.robles@dailyutahchronicle.com

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