First Generation and Fearless
PROVO, Utah – Dec 16, 2022 – As the first person in her family to complete high school, Mirka Sansores Bellingham learned how to read textbooks, study for exams, and chart out her four-year high-school education plan by herself. Now, as a senior and a first-generation student in the human resource management (HRM) program at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Sansores strives to lift other students on their paths to higher education.
Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Sansores appreciates her parents’ individual decisions to come to the United States. “My parents are Mexican, and they immigrated to Texas in their twenties, where they met,” Sansores says. “That decision opened up a completely different path of opportunities for me and my siblings than my parents had.”
Sansores’s mom received an elementary school education, and her dad almost finished high school before stopping to work full-time. Their dream of more education for their children has come true as Sansores and her siblings have all completed high school. However, Sansores says, looking back, school proved to be incredibly challenging. “I learned how to be a student by myself,” she says.
From learning how to effectively study for exams to figuring out the FAFSA application, Sansores paved her own way to higher education. “All of my schoolwork was in English, so my parents couldn’t even help me edit my own papers,” she says. Thankfully, Sansores says when she started applying to colleges, her friends already at BYU helped her start her college applications.
“Despite these struggles, my experience as a first-generation student has been key to my development as a leader,” Sansores says. Now the student president of the HRM program, Sansores found her way to the major through a career development class.
This class introduced Sansores to the field of HRM, where it was love at first sight. “As I looked through the coursework, I didn’t see any heavy math or science, and the program felt like a leadership major, which resonated with me,” says Sansores, advising anyone who is unsure about their future to take a career development class. “I didn’t just learn about what jobs were available, but I also learned about myself and my career preferences.”
Sansores naturally gravitates to leadership experiences, and the HRM program provides ample opportunities for her to stretch her leadership skills. In particular, the HRM executive lecture series at BYU Marriott has helped Sansores learn how to be a leader from a myriad of people.
“The first time I took this class, I thought the speakers were magical,” she says. Now as a teaching assistant for the lecture series, Sansores realizes how human the executives are. “Now I recognize that business executives don’t possess superhuman abilities to run their companies, and I have the potential to accomplish similar things,” she says.
Sansores's internship with one of the companies represented in the lecture class also confirmed to her the viability of a career in HRM. Sansores’s internship was in Denver, Colorado, with the aerospace and technology company Lockheed Martin. As part of her internship, Sansores shadowed people in labor relations—a field she never saw herself going into. Guest speakers in the HRM lecture series had warned students that working with unions was challenging. However, during her internship, Sansores realized that despite the challenge, she wants to be in the thick of union relationships to help those with less protection. She is excited to negotiate for increased wages, better healthcare access, and heightened safety precautions.
As Sansores interviews for postgraduation jobs, she remembers what her dad said to her and her siblings growing up. “He wanted us to receive an education so we wouldn’t have to work how he had to,” Sansores says.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Liesel Allen