Muscat Scholars Program Helps Student Chart a New Path
The Muscat Scholars Program at USF works as a transitional aid for first-generation students, like Lina Vu '23, as they acclimate to college life on the hilltop. Vu shares how the supportive mentorships and unique campus resources provided to her by the program have boosted her self-confidence and ensured success long beyond her first year.
What does “Changing the World From Here” mean to you?
Everyone has a purpose and a story to pursue. I believe that small acts of kindness and being active participants in our communities can empower us and others to drive lasting change into motion. As a community, we have the power to bring forth qualities and identities capable of visualizing and making the changes we need in today’s world.
Who is someone you know within the Muscat Scholars community who is “Changing the World from Here” and how have they transformed your time at USF?
Charlene Soriano, Muscat Scholars Program’s (MSP) former program director, has guided many students entering college for the first time. There is no doubt that first-generation students often experience more difficulties transitioning into college than many others. In my case, I believe that a program like MSP is something I will always be grateful for and inspired by what it hopes to achieve. She has seen to it that many first-generation college students, including myself, have had a positive reinforcement during what can be a tumultuous period in their lives.
What role has the Muscat Scholarship Program played in your academic and personal successes thus far?
Naturally, I was anxious about being the first in my family to attend a four-year university. I was unsure about what to expect for myself and this new experience, but I found comfort in building a tight-knit family with MSP staff and students. Like me, the other participants were actively seeking opportunities for growth and connection. I quickly felt surrounded by people that wanted to see me succeed and genuinely cared about the wellbeing of our community. They immediately offered me a safe space to develop new and existing friendships and skills that I couldn’t say I would have otherwise. I’ve found that programs like MSP help identify and enhance the tools that we already have. In doing so, we benefit from fostering ways in which we might discover new ones.
How has your participation in this program influenced the path you hope to take after graduation?
In the two weeks leading up to my freshman year, the MSP staff invited first-generation students like myself to move in early. In this short time, the initial conversations and activities that we participated in as a group allowed me to delve into the worlds of many other students. From there, the connections, mentorships, and workshops that MSP offered have catered to my personalized college experience and have allowed me to direct, and redirect, my future in med school.
What makes you proud to be a USF Don?
The title of a Don – that which characterizes resilience, inventiveness, and passion – is what makes me most proud of continuing my education on this campus. I assume that many students coming to an institution of higher education have a set of goals that they want to achieve. Being a Don is unique. The collective culture allows us to focus on our personal goals while simultaneously supporting our immediate communities and beyond. With a small-scale campus and class sizes, the university’s environment helps us build new connections with our peers and USF staff alike.