Andrew Velez is a junior at Purdue Fort Wayne studying Computer Engineering Technology. His anticipated graduation year is 2024. Andrew has always excelled in math and science, so his teachers encouraged him to explore computers and engineering. Andrew is hoping to have a career in computer hardware when he graduates.
Andrew grew up in Indianapolis with his two loving parents and his brother and sister. Growing up, Andrew was always a shy kid who could be hard on himself. “I wanted to be the best at everything. I would get so frustrated with myself if I messed up,” Andrew said. The support system he was able to build throughout school and in his home life helped him gradually come out of his shell. Both of his parents started out working in warehouses but now his mother is a lunch lady at a local school and his father owns his own barber shop. Andrew is a first-generation college student whose father was always big on education so he could attain a better life for himself.
As a first-generation student, Andrew came into college as a 21st Century Scholar. The 21st Century Scholarship is “an early-college promise program designed to help ensure that every Hoosier student can afford the opportunity provided by a college education” (Learn More Indiana). As long as a high school student elects to attend an in-state, public two-year or four-year college in Indiana, the scholarship will cover the entirety of the tuition. Private colleges and select for-profit colleges in Indiana accept a portion of the tuition as well. Because the 21st Century Scholar program removes financial barriers for first-generation students like Andrew, he can spend his time doing what is most important while he is in college: focusing on his studies.
Another great asset to Andrew’s college journey has been joining the Persistence Pays Off program. Through this program, Andrew is being set up for success after graduation by learning early on how to budget and build his credit score. “I have developed a financial mindset in a good way. Before the program, I just spent the money I had,” Andrew explained. Being part of the Persistence Pays Off program has also helped Andrew pay for things at school such as books that are not covered by his 21st Century Scholarship. Andrew has been incredibly grateful to Persistence Pays Off setting him up for success in college and for when he graduates.
After graduation, Andrew dreams of having a stable and secure life. “A big dream of mine is to be financially free. I have no worries, I can travel a lot if I choose to,” Andrew said. He looks forward to starting a family someday and living a relaxed and quiet life.