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UNL senior Edgar Montoya makes impact as NCAN Advocacy Fellow

Edgar Montoya is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has been involved in multiple programs throughout his college career, including a student strengths coach for the Clifton Strengths Institute, a mentor for the DREAMBIG Academy, and an active member of Sigma Nu fraternity.

When Edgar’s College Possible Coach told him about the National College Attainment Network Student Advocacy Fellowship (NCAN), it was no surprise he applied for the position.

The NCAN fellowship gives first generation college students an influential voice and empowers them to make a difference, share their personal experience, and engage in national policy discussions with state legislatures. The program includes continual advocacy training and education about federal higher education policy.

“Being part of the fellowship has been great. It’s challenging and rewarding. Being a grant recipient myself, I saw the opportunity to contribute to the overall efforts and help give back.”

Edgar was selected to the fellowship and will begin contacting state legislatures to help inform policymakers about the importance of federal funding. The purpose is to improve student’s ability to access, afford, and attain a college degree.

“We’re all working toward one goal to help students like myself get a college degree, and we’ve already made progress protecting the Pell Grant and new FAFSA legislation to help increase financial aid application completion.”

Inspiration

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Edgar grew up with two loving parents and three siblings. He is a graduate of Ralston High School and anticipates graduating this spring from UNL with a degree in Business Management and Marketing.

Edgar’s inspiration comes from his parents. They were born in Mexico and began working at a young age and didn’t have the opportunity to graduate high school. Edgar’s father has always worked a job requiring physical labor wanted more career opportunities for his children.

“He wanted us to be able to do something that he never even had the opportunity to do. That’s where some of the motivation comes from,” Edgar said.

Why college?

“The first thing that comes to mind is breaking that generational cycle. I’ve always had the goal to go to college and get a degree. That goal has kept me grounded.”

“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but getting my degree is going to set a great example for both my younger siblings and for people who are like me.”

How have you benefitted from College Possible?

“College Possible has been the number one asset through high school and college.”

If it weren’t for College Possible, I wouldn’t be at UNL. My College Possible coaches were adamant and always pushed me to do my best whether it was at the practice ACTs on Saturdays or applying for scholarships. My tuition for all four years was paid for by the Buffett Scholarship and the Nebraska Achievement Scholarship, and I attribute much of this success to College Possible.”

Involvement

In high school, Edgar was a participant in the Dream Big Academy, a program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha that invites eligible high school juniors to campus to learn more about college life.

Now, in college, he is paying it forward as a proud mentor for other students.

“I was able to do what they had done for me and continue that mentorship and provide leadership.”

Edgar has been a member of Sigma Nu fraternity all four years of college and served as treasurer for two. “That organization really helped me to get my foot in the door, in networking and making connections.”

As an NCAN fellow, Edgar will take the experience he has had at UNL and spend the rest of his senior year advocating for higher education opportunities for students like him.

Read more stories, spotlights, and news articles at collegepossible.org/omaha/news.

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