Mariana Milan’s mother and father immigrated to the United States from Colombia and Mexico, respectively, and did everything they could to support their daughter’s academic journey. Her mother is a house cleaner and her father, a painting foreman. They provided as much financial support as possible. But since Milan’s parents didn’t attend college, she had to figure out processes like applications and financial aid by herself.
“I didn’t know about the resources that could have contributed to my success,” Milan said.
According to Milan, many Hispanic students are first-generation college-goers and encounter similar obstacles. Based on her experience, she has guided her younger siblings as well as other members of the Latinx community. While enrolled in the Regynald G. Washington Master of Global Hospitality Management program at the Robinson College of Business, Milan served as a graduate administrative assistant for Georgia State’s Latinx Student Service and Outreach (LASSO) unit. LASSO’s primary function is to empower and advance Latinx students. In her role, Milan worked with a group of undergraduates who received the Goizueta Foundation Leadership Pipeline Scholarship. Milan mentored them throughout their freshman year, offering assistance with resume editing and homework assignments. She and her colleagues also organized career-oriented workshops and guest speaker events.
“Many of these students have to take care of their little brothers and sisters, and cook and clean for their families, especially if their parents have two jobs,” Milan said. “Those types of issues prevent them from studying and going to school. We were their support system–to stay in school and graduate.”
Milan also volunteered with the Latin American Association (LAA) while earning an undergraduate degree in finance at Georgia Gwinnett College. She helped with the LAA’s annual Latino Youth Leadership Conference, which focuses on inspiring middle and high school students across Georgia to pursue higher education and reach their full career potential.
“It was rewarding to set a good example for those kids,” Milan said.
Service to the Latinx community is part of Milan’s long-term career plan. She finished her master’s degree in August.
“I’ve done a lot of research on the lack of Hispanics in leadership positions in the hospitality industry,” she said. “Recruiting and training them to fill executive roles in the field would be ideal.”