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Family First – Overcoming a Generational Struggle

Georgian Court University 2024 Student Spotlight Venecia Munoz

In education, the narrative of achievement over adversity often finds its most inspiring expression in the stories of first-generation students. Venecia Munoz serves as a shining example of unwavering perseverance and resilience as a first-generation college student.

Munoz is earning a Bachelor of Science in Health Profession Studies. “I’ve always wanted to be in the medical field, I love helping people, especially at their most vulnerable times.” She explained, “ I think my passion for helping people came from my love for my family and a hope that others would want to help my parents if they ever needed it someday.”

Munoz worked tirelessly to not only excel in her courses but also to keep her family afloat. “As a first-generation student, I had nobody to help me. I was working two full-time jobs while also enrolled in school full-time,” she remarked. “I do everything for my parents, since they are immigrants—I have to translate for them and have been helping them with their residency process. For a while, my parents had to leave the country, so I was left here alone with my little brother, which was very hard.”

Munoz said that although her parents couldn’t help her academically, their support made a huge difference. “They supported me in other ways and always encouraged me to keep going and never give up.” She also hopes to share what she has learned on this journey with younger family members. “ I can set an example for them now and prove that ‘we can do this.’ It makes it worth it knowing my family can have someone to look up to and knowing that they can do it too, and that’s what gets me through it.”

Throughout her time at GCU, Munoz utilized TRIO and EOF services to guide her through her academic journey as the first college student in her family. “TRIO and EOF helped me build and connect within the community. TRIO was my helpline,” she added. Munoz also credits Pat Torlucci, a TRIO advisor, for helping her through her academic journey. “She was always there for me, offering any help I might need. She helped me so much with everything I was going through.” 

As a Catholic from a religious family, Munoz found comfort in GCU’s Catholic community and within the Mercy core values. “It is very nice to be in a school that aligns with my religious beliefs and attend a university that supports my values. The core values have and will always stick with me and my career, and have helped shape the way I navigate my career and future.”

Munoz plans to attend radiology school in the future. “I like radiology because you get to see both sides of the healthcare field. You get to be in the back and the lab while also helping patients directly and being there for them when they need you.”

When asked what advice she would give to other first-generation students, Munoz replied, “It’s okay to need help and it’s not going to be easy. Don’t underestimate the help you can get and accept all the help you are offered.” Munoz’s story of perseverance sets a true example of triumph over hardship for generations of students to come.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Georgian Court University is a leading regional university that provides a transformative education, preparing students for ethical leadership and service in the Catholic Mercy tradition. Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. The university has a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women.

As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 1,900 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 16 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings, and in 2024, GCU was named one of the best Online Master’s Colleges in New Jersey.

The main campus is in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students through its Center for Professional Studies, and at other locations, including GCU at Brookdale, and through multiple online degree and certificate programs.