What's your background?
My name is Christian Mejia and I attend New York University with an intended major in Computer Science and minor in Business Studies. I am an Hispanic first-generation college student born and raised in New York City!
Can you describe the highs and lows of your college experience?
As a first-generation college student, there's some pressure to excel in your studies and set an example/be a role model for others. Freshman year in college was great because everything was so new to me and I just wanted to take it all in. However, my first encounter with finals was extremely tough. It is still tough to this day but I'm getting better at handling it.
What was most stressful to you about paying for college if you could pick out one thing? Why?
Going away for college was never really an option for me because of how expensive it is. Even then, going to college in NYC would still be expensive so narrowing down my choices to realistic options was a bit stressful. Once I was accepted to NYU with an almost full ride, it was then that I realized how important financial aid forms like the FAFSA really were. It didn't matter how expensive a school was, the aid to attend these schools was always there; I just needed to know how to obtain it.
Who helped you navigate paying for college?
I am really grateful to have attended such a great high school: Bard High School Early College. The faculty there is dedicated to the academic success of the students and their enrollment in college. My advisor would always be available to help and was knowledgeable in the entire college application process.
What are you majoring in? What has been your favorite class?
I am majoring in Computer Science because it is a rapidly growing field that can be applied everywhere! I learned to code at an early age (in 6th grade) and have been fascinated with it ever since. I also fell in love with the startup field when I first learned about it in high school, so majoring in CS was a no-brainer for me. My favorite class has to be Intro to Engineering and Design. where I worked in a team on a semester-long design project building a really cool LEGO robot.
What do you hope to do with your career?
In the long run, I hope to aid in the technological advancement of other countries through engineering. I envision myself traveling the world helping others and giving back to the community. I plan on staying in the startup field, and maybe one day even starting my own.
What do you do in your free time?
Outside of my studies, I am very involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers chapter at NYU. I’ve held a position in the chapter every year since beginning college and am currently the External Vice President. During my free time I like to exercise, read, and learn new things. I'm always trying to grow as a person and invest in myself.
What is your biggest piece of advice for college so far?
My biggest piece of advice for college would have to be: DO NOT let your grades define you! I would say I have accomplished a lot despite my average academic performance. College is tough but never stop trying your best. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it and always take advantage of the resources available to you.
Why do you like about being a NextGenVest Money Mentor?
I enjoy being a NextGenVest Money Mentor for many different reasons. First of all, it's a startup focused on helping others which is exactly what I want to do as a career. Second, it's not your typical type of position where you work a certain number of hours and that's it. You are rewarded based on the impact you make, no matter how little or how much time you put into it. You're also always making an impact on the company, either directly or indirectly and no matter what position you have.
What's one thing that you learned while being a Money Mentor?
I have learned A LOT about paying for college and personal finances in general as a NextGenVest Money Mentor. Talking to thousands of high school students across the country, I've come to realize just how difficult it is for students to pursue higher education. For many, it isn't even an option they consider until someone let's them know that it is. I've also learned that students don't really have a say when it comes to student finances. Making one of the biggest financial decision of their lives by pursuing a higher education, high school students deserve to have their voices heard and that's exactly what NextGenVest is trying to help with.