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FINAL: Just the act of applying to NIU has made freshman business undecided major Karina Chaparro of Chicago, IL, a pioneer. She is the first generation of her family to go to college and the first female. “My parents were freaked out when I told them I wanted to go away to school,” Chaparro said. “I am Hispanic, I come from a Hispanic family who very much care about staying close to family, close to home. Especially the females.” NIU was an agreeable choice for her and her parents because it was a close enough distance and she found it to have one of the best business colleges in the country. Chaparro knew early on that she wouldn’t stay close to home. “I always had good grades and I wanted more.” Caparro’s actions have influenced and inspired her younger brother who also wants to attend a university, even one out of state. Caparro said doing this will be easier for him and her efforts have left her brother grateful. “He saw that I had to struggle. He knows he has me as a resource and he’s thankful for that.” Caparro adds that there is another benefit to his gratitude. “He does whatever I tell him.” Part of the challenge in applying for school came since Caparro’s parents didn’t continue their education past grade school. As a result, they had no knowledge on how to apply for college and in Caparro’s case, apply for financial aid or the FAFSA loan. “I wasn’t discouraged by this but I was intimidated.” But Chaparro did have a support group since she is a fellow at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. One of their services is to assist Hispanics interested in higher education with the application process. After her work to get to NIU, Caparro feels grateful. “I’m very very proud to be here, standing on this campus, with other students who have had more privilege than me but now we are standing on equal ground.”

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