Miguel Banuelos-Garcia’s first generation journey

Miguel Banuelos-Garcia was a bit nervous to tell his family he was going to college. A first generation student, Banuelos-Garcia didn’t tell his parents until the night of his high school graduation. He had applied, been accepted, and familiarized himself with the university system on his own with the help of friends and mentors. 

“I didn’t really know how to prepare them for the news but I hoped they would be happy with the decision I was about to make,” said Banuelos-Garcia. “I am an only child so I pictured it being hard telling my parents their only son was about to move away.”

As one would hope, his parents were happy and very supportive.

Now a second year Communication Studies major, Banuelos-Garcia already has many accomplishments under his name: he is a law firm intern; a member of Key Plus (a service organization); the first in his family to go to college; and, a recent hire as a CSU ambassador.

Banuelos-Garcia was inspired to study communication because of an internship he had with Entravision in high school. Entravision is a countrywide media company with a primarily Latino audience. Banuelos-Garcia interned at the Denver location in marketing, promotion, news, and radio and was the youngest person on the staff. He developed professional skills while working alongside news anchors and special guests from the music and entertainment industry.

“I remember recording my first radio commercial and I was so excited,” said Banuelos-Garcia. “I also helped film some commercials which I was super excited about too. Even though I was behind the scenes and not in the front of some commercials, I just thought okay, this is what I want to do.” His internship covered the gamut from content creation to production.

His first impressions at CSU were nothing but positive and his first year of Communication Studies classes immediately had an effect. For instance, even SPCM 100, Communication and Popular Culture, helped him understand the expansive influence media has on our perceptions of the world.

The freshman Ram also learned invaluable communication skills during a Key Service project teaching English to South American and African immigrants at Fort Morgan High School in eastern Colorado. As a English and Spanish speaker and Communication Studies major, he went into the volunteer work thinking how hard could it be?

“It really challenged me to meet students speaking something [other than English]” said Banuelos-Garcia. But once he started interacting with the students he began to understand their needs. He credits his major for helping him learn how to interact with non-English speaking students, make connections, and develop important intercultural communication skills.

After Banuelos-Garcia’s first year at CSU, he realized he wanted to do more than talk about world issues. He wanted to take action. His first week of his second year he declared a minor in legal studies. Banuelos-Garcia hopes to concentrate in civil rights, combining his passions for serving other people with his education.

“This summer I read Love Wins, a book about lawyers and lovers who fought for marriage equality and that influenced my perspective of why I want to go to law school,” said Banuelos-Garcia. “Hopefully 10 years from now I will be in Washington D.C., advocating for human rights.”

A high school program called Mock Trial spiked Banuelos-Garcia’s interest in law. The program exposes participants to real law cases which they review and then argue in trial simulations at the Denver courthouse. The experience paid off. His program mentor opened a law firm where he now interns.

Beyond the classroom Banuelos-Garcia’s communication experience continues to shape his learning. “Right now [at the law firm] I’m working on communications, doing social media and writing my first blog post,” he says. “I’ve also been interacting and sitting in on some of [the lawyer’s] cases, so I’m learning about law and business development. It’s cool combining those two worlds.”

Watch a short video on Miguel’s advice for CMST majors here.