First-generation social work student thankful for her parents’ sacrifices and support

Tiffany Huaman was born in New York City and always thought she would go back there for college. She ended up choosing Colorado State University for its affordability, but she says she soon found that it was one of the best decisions she ever made.

Peruvian familyTiffany Huaman

Huaman was born in Queens to Peruvian parents. She fondly remembers living in the Big Apple, as some of her favorite memories are of spending time with her extended family in the city. She moved to Colorado at the age of five after her parents decided to leave the East Coast, eventually settling in Centennial, Colorado.

“I wanted to go back to New York once I graduated from high school. I applied to what felt like a billion scholarships. Yet, I still wouldn’t be able to afford to go to any universities in New York without ending up in some amount of debt,” Huaman said. “So I made a better choice and came to CSU, where my scholarships covered my educational expenses.”

She has not regretted her choice. “I’ve come to love CSU and especially the area of Fort Collins in general,” she said.

A first-generation double major

College can seem intimidating, especially when you are one of the first in your family to attend. However, with the support of her loving parents, brother, and extended family, as well as the faculty at CSU, Huaman was able to overcome the odds and is now graduating with two degrees in-hand, one in Social Work and the other in Spanish.

“My parents left their country, friends, family and language to provide a better future and life for their kids,” Huaman said. “I will always be grateful for my parents’ sacrifice. Through their actions, they emphasized how important it is to do well in school and to go to college to be successful.”

In addition to being thankful to her family for her success, Huaman would like to acknowledge her teachers at CSU. “I would like to thank my Spanish professor Francisco Leal for making class fun and interesting and always being enthusiastic about teaching,” Huaman said. “I would also like to thank my social work professor Marie Villescas-Zamzow for always challenging me and motivating me to succeed.”

Throughout the course of her education, Huaman spent a majority of her time working to help pay her college expenses. However, she did manage to find ways to get involved in a number of extracurricular activities despite her busy schedule and double major. Her activities include her service as the vice president of Social Work in Action, a community service club that participates in community outreach and social action on the CSU campus and in the Fort Collins area. She also studied abroad in Granada, Spain, where she took classes in Spanish and taught English to native Spanish speakers.

Future plans

Graduating from CSU marks the end of a chapter, but it also marks the beginning of a new one. Huaman is currently weighing her options for the future, which includes considering an application to the Peace Corps.

In the meantime, she plans to celebrate her graduation from CSU, which can also be bittersweet. Huaman says mostly she will miss her friends she met at CSU during freshman year living in Allison Hall and in her classes, and hopes to keep in touch with them, as well as her teachers.

“I’ll miss the beauty of CSU’s campus, the Oval, and walking to and from the MAX to head to work after my classes,” she said. “And, I’ll maybe even miss the train!”

The School of Social Work is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.