The Charger Blog

First-Generation Student Reflects on Opportunities as a Charger

Amber Marrero ’21, a recent graduate of the University’s cybersecurity and networks program, was the first member of her family to go to college. She is grateful for the many gratifying opportunities she had in the classroom and while connecting with her fellow students and her professors.

March 5, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Amber Marrero working on a computer.
Amber Marrero ’21 earned a degree in cybersecurity and networks.

When Amber Marrero ’21 got her first iPhone when she was in high school, she was surprised – and disturbed – by how easily it could be hacked by those who knew how. That same year, her computer was hacked, and the vulnerability of her gadgets inspired her to learn how to protect them.

Marrero saw potential in the field of cybersecurity, and in the opportunity to study at the University of New Haven. When she was awarded her bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and networks from the University as part of its Virtual Winter Commencement, she became the first in her family to earn a college degree.

Amber Marrero.
Amber Marrero ’21.

“Being a first-generation student means being and setting an example of what can be achieved within my family and my community,” said Marrero, who hails from the Bronx. “This is meaningful to me because I realize not everyone has the opportunities and resources that I have had. I strive to succeed so I can inspire others to be the best they can be – not only for themselves, but for their families and the people around them.”

Marrero enjoyed the challenge that cybersecurity presented, since, she says, the technology is constantly evolving. She also enjoyed the many hands-on experiences she had to apply what she learned in the classroom, which included innovative and exciting opportunities such as taking part in the investigation of a mock cyber crime.

“It was important for me to continue my education so I could better understand and learn about cybersecurity,” said Marrero, who also minored in behavioral economics and sociology. “It was also important because of opportunities such as living on campus, meeting new people, and making the memories I always hoped to have when I was younger and dreamed of going to college.”

Amber Marrero's picture on University lawn sign.
As part of the University’s “I Am a Charger” campaign, Amber Marrero ’21 was featured on lawn signs that were displayed on campus.
‘I have learned what it means to be a leader’

Marrero embraced every chance she had to connect with her fellow Chargers. A member of the University’s NAACP chapter and its Black Student Union, she also fostered diversity and inclusion through her work with the Undergraduate Student Government Association’s judicial council and campus inclusion advocacy committee. She was one of the featured speakers at the University’s inaugural Celebration of Excellence event.

She also has fond memories of connecting with her sorority sisters as part of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc., and she served as president of the University’s All Greek Council.

Dedicated to ensuring that all Chargers – including new and prospective students – felt welcome, Marrero served as a tour guide, office ambassador, and Charger Ambassador for the University’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. She also welcomed new students as an orientation assistant for the Center for Student Engagement, Leadership, and Orientation and as part of the Welcome Wagon.

Amber Marrero with friends on campus.
Amber Marrero ’21 (center) and her Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc. sorority sisters and Latino America Unida and Lambda Alpha Upsilon Fraternity Inc. brothers.

“The University has prepared me for success by providing the resources for me to be a better student and person,” she said. “I have learned what it means to be a leader, a better professional, and I have improved my communication and social skills. The University has also helped me to envision what I want to do in the future.”

As part of its commemoration of First-Generation Celebration Day, a national initiative created by the Council for Opportunity in Education on Nov. 8, the University of New Haven launched an ongoing campaign that will regularly highlight the success of first-generation students in its community and alumni of the University who are the first in their families to earn a college degree. Read earlier features about Sofia Martinez ’22, Ariana Eastwood ’23, and Kyle Longo ’21.