First-gen student receives life-changing scholarship — here's how he did it


It was a bright and sunny afternoon in August 2021 when Pedro Piña-Guerrero received a call that would change his life: He had won the Adelante Scholarship to attend Wichita State University. In the background, he could hear his mom squealing. As the phone call ended, Pedro knew he was about to become the first in his family to earn a college degree.

Pedro was one of the 21 students who were the first to receive the Adelante Scholarship at WSU. The Adelante Scholarship, meaning “to move forward,” rewards students of high academic potential from diverse backgrounds and was founded by Gene and Yolanda Camarena.

Pedro’s journey to receiving the scholarship was long in the making. It all started in high school when he made a promise to himself to “do everything in [his] power to get good grades and get involved so that [he] would get noticed by scholarships.” This included extra effort put into grades and extracurriculars.

As a first-generation student, Pedro did not know where to begin with his college prospects. That is when his guidance counselor brought up the Adelante Scholarship.

“Such a high amount of money was being offered, which definitely built up a lot of doubt, but with the support of loved ones, anything felt possible,” he said.

Pedro went through the whole process — including essays, interviews and a creating a polished resume. All that work paid off when he won the Adelante Scholarship.

“You don’t have to be the most intelligent person in the world. You just have to put the effort in and try your best in everything you do.”

—Pedro Piña-Guerrero

In addition to the financial help, the scholarship helps students to feel connected and successfully integrated into the Shocker community. All Adelante students are required to participate in the Passage to Success Program.

As he finishes his first semester at Wichita State, Pedro — a biomedical sciences major on the pre-med track — says he’s incredibly grateful that the Adelante committee believed in him.

“This outstanding program helped me through the hardships of beginning college, and it also gave me many friends,” he said.

Because of the help he’s received, Pedro says, he has more time to focus on his studies without as much financial stress. He is also able to focus more on the real-world applications to his major.

“I can now advance into my career field by volunteering at a hospital, shadowing a doctor, or getting some work experience without the dreadful struggle of possibly having to work full time,” he says.

His advice to students applying for scholarships:

Practice interview skills and build a solid resume with extracurriculars, volunteer experiences and academic achievements. And, most of all, have a passion for what you do – because that will allow you to show off in your most authentic way.

What does he say to students who aren’t sure if they should bother applying for a scholarship?

“You don’t have to be the most intelligent person in the world,” he says. “You just have to put the effort in and try your best in everything you do.”

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