As a first-generation college student, Ivan Ibarra understands the definition of hard work. Both of his parents immigrated from Mexico to live in the United States to hopefully provide new opportunities for their children. “My father has been a truck driver since I was a child and sacrificed a lot of time with us as a family in order to make sure we were taken care of. With my father often being gone from home due to work, my mother had to take on the burden of juggling extra parent duty as well as work with two boys at home with several activities to keep them busy.”

His parents always encouraged he and his older brother to do well in school, but there was a singular moment in Ivan’s childhood that solidified his path for education.

“I was about 12 years old and my father took me to go work in the corn fields with my grandfather in Mexico. I was given a burlap sack and taught how to pick corn. I don’t think I made it more than a couple of hours before being exhausted and knowing school was the best path for me.”

After obtaining his undergraduate degree in finance and working in the insurance industry, Ivan decided to enroll in Goizueta’s Two-Year MBA to help him move forward in his career. “I wanted a program of a certain caliber, and I wanted a program that was small and had a sense of community. I also wanted to be in a city that had ample opportunities and that I would enjoy living in during my time at school and also after graduating.”

One day, Ivan hopes to give back to other future first-generation students seeking not only an undergraduate degree but also looking at obtaining an MBA.

“At times you’ll feel alone or that you don’t belong, but that’s part of the journey of discovering who you are as a person and as a student. You’re essentially a trailblazer in the sense that you aren’t doing this just for yourself, but also, to provide an example to those behind you. I hope that one day I can help future first-generation students have the same opportunities that I did.”