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 Maggie and Melissa stand in front of a stage

First-generation students Maggie and Melissa Perez pursue their passions together at NKU

When Melissa and Maggie Perez were in high school, still considering their options for their future, the sisters hoped that they’d be able to attend colleges that were close to one another. Little did they know, they’d both end up enrolling at Northern Kentucky University, where they are now sophomores. Though their chosen fields of study may differ—Melissa’s major is in elementary education, while Maggie’s is in social work—the two are never far apart.

“It’s really cool. We’ve always been together,” Melissa says. “Now that we’re here together, it feels like we’re always finding each other and trying to communicate. Like, ‘Hey, where are you? Did you eat already?’”

First-generation college students, Maggie and Melissa were born in Mexico and grew up in Florence, Kentucky, where they attended middle and high school. Aside from its proximity to family and friends, it was NKU’s price and opportunities that drew them here. Each was also a recipient of the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Endowed Scholarship, awarded by The Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee.

“Now that we’re here together, it feels like we’re always finding each other and trying to communicate. Like, ‘Hey, where are you? Did you eat already?’"

Since their freshman year, the sisters have made it a point to get involved on campus, each of them joining the Latinos Avanzando Mentorship Program, also known as LAMP. 

“I’m forever thankful for LAMP,” Maggie says. “I made some of my best friends there.”

“We’re able to celebrate being Hispanic, knowing how all of our cultures are different yet the same” Melissa adds.

In the classroom, Maggie and Melissa are able to pursue their passions through study. While Melissa’s initial interest in helping children as a pediatrician translates into a newfound interest in elementary education, Maggie’s dedication to volunteer work—passed down from her mother—factors into her major in social work. After graduation, Maggie plans to get her master’s degree and hopes her minor in Spanish will allow her to pursue a career with an international focus.

Both sisters recommend that new students at NKU get involved with their campus community as soon as possible.

“At first, try a little bit of everything,” Melissa says. “Join different organizations or clubs or anything that you like, and as time passes, you’ll figure out what works best for you.”

“Don’t fear change,” Maggie says. “And just know that no matter what, it gets better.”

About This Article

September 2023

Written by
Jude Noel ('18)
Communications Specialist, NKU Magazine