Forensic Science Major: ‘Being a First-Generation Student Means a Lot to Me’
Julia Clara Ferreira ’27 is excited to be the first member of her family to go to college. A recipient of a competitive scholarship for the children of immigrants, Ferreira hopes to make her parents, who moved to the U.S. from Brazil, proud.
October 11, 2023
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
For Julia Clara Ferreira ’27, the Fall semester has been an exciting time. She started her first semester of college and accepted her first scholarship – and she is the first member of her family to accomplish either.
As a high school student in Danbury, Conn., Ferreira imagined herself pursuing a career in a science-related field. The daughter of immigrants who came to the United States from Brazil, she had her sights set on higher education. That meant exploring opportunities that members of her family hadn’t yet seen, and she’s excited to be the first.
“Being a first-generation student means a lot to me,” she said. “I’m very proud of it. I feel like my parents are very happy for me to go to college, since they’ve never experienced that. They finished their high school educations in the U.S., but they never had the opportunity to go to college. So, I feel like I’m living out their dream for them, which makes me really happy.”
While in high school, Ferreira was a participant in the ConnCAP program, which
serves Danbury High School students in families in which neither parent has completed a four-year college degree. The program offered her support with her college applications, FAFSA, and with crafting her resume. When she was a senior, one of the staff members also mentioned an opportunity to apply for a scholarship. Intrigued, Ferreira applied.
Ferreira recalls she was leaving work when she noticed she’d received a voicemail. Initially, she says she was afraid it was a message telling her she didn’t receive the scholarship. Instead, she received a message of congratulations.
“I was absolutely shocked!” she said. “I told my mom, and she started crying. It was also the first scholarship I received, and I was extremely happy, extremely grateful. It means a lot. It was extremely special because the actual award was for children of immigrants, and that felt meaningful.”
‘Make my parents proud’
Ferreira accepted the scholarship from the New American Dream Foundation, a nonprofit based in Danbury, at a recent ceremony. She’s one of only three students in the state to receive one.
In addition to learning about college and scholarships as a high school student, Ferreira also was introduced to the field of forensic science as a possible career path. She describes herself as a kid who always enjoyed mystery books and documentaries, and it was through one of those films that she was first exposed to forensic science. Captivated, she began to research the field, and she took her first forensic science classes.
“When I learned about forensic science, it sparked for me,” she explains. “It’s so interesting.”
Ferreira is now immersing herself in her forensic science classes at the University – and in life as a college student. She’s already joined the University’s Forensic Science Students Association, and she’s eager to continue to get involved in the Charger community. She’s excited to be a trailblazer in her family and to take advantage of every opportunity that she has as a first-generation student.
“My main goal is to make my parents proud,” she said. “I want to get good grades and I want to have a good college experience. I already have a good support group that I’m grateful for. I also want to meet people and join clubs. I didn’t do that in high school, and I’m excited to do that now.”