Political science major becomes first-generation college graduate
Kevin Becerra-Cardoza excelled at everything he put his mind to as a student at Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC), including being named to the President’s List, the Dean’s List and being inducted into four national honor societies.
He didn’t let any opportunity to learn and grow as a GGC student go to waste, filling his undergraduate career with club organizations like the Student Government Association, the Organization for Latin American Students, the Volleyball Club and the Four Pillar Society.
“My involvement in these organizations helped drive my passion for helping others, leadership and self-love as a Latino student,” said Becerra-Cardoza. “Serving as a student ambassador and orientation leader were experiences that allowed me to create meaningful impacts on incoming and prospective students, and I even got to interact with local leaders and government officials.”
He participated in the 2019 GGC Leadership, Education, Action Development (LEAD) conference, designed to inspire and empower students to become effective leaders, and the Peru Summer Study in 2022, both of which made life-long impacts on him.
“The Peru program allowed me to experience a new culture, create life-long memories, and cherish the beauty and diversity of another country,” he said. “The LEAD conference gave me skills that I will continue to use as I move through the next chapters of my life, like leadership, public speaking, teamwork and communication. That conference is what sparked my passion for becoming involved on campus.”
Becerra-Cardoza received both the Goizueta Aspirational Recruitment Scholarship and the Goizueta Success Retention Scholarship.
“The scholarships allowed me to focus heavily on my studies and relieved financial burdens, allowing me to proudly state that I graduated debt-free,” he said.
A tour of the GGC campus convinced him to apply to the school.
“Everyone was extremely nice and welcoming, and I enjoyed how green and beautiful the campus is,” he said. “GGC is also very close to home, and the tuition was affordable.”
Becerra-Cardoza grew up in Lilburn, Georgia. His parents’ work ethic was infused into him from the time he was old enough to understand what work was.
His father, Maximino Becerra, a federal police officer for Mexico, passed away months after Becerra-Cardoza’s high school graduation.
“He always supported me in all decisions and pushed me to be the best in whatever I chose. After he passed away, I promised myself to not only graduate college but to also pursue an even higher degree. Knowing he is in heaven and proud of me is my biggest motivational factor.”
Becerra-Cardoza’s mother, Alizeth Cardoza, worked as a waitress before starting her own restaurant cleaning business.
“For my mother, is it especially emotional for me to be the first to graduate college from her side of the family. She raised me as a single mother and was constantly working to ensure we could survive. She had to cover out-of-state tuition for my first semester, and that pushed me to really make sure to do my best.”
After his first semester, Becerra-Cardoza became eligible for in-state tuition and financial aid.
“My educational journey at Georgia Gwinnett College was full of a lot of support from professors, wonderful experiences, and a greater sense of my self-identity,” said Becerra-Cardoza. “But as a first-generation student, graduating college was a dream most dear to myself and my family. My parents' sacrifices and hard work helped motivate me to excel and become successful.”
Becerra-Cardoza graduated from GGC in May with a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in legal studies and is continuing his education at Kennesaw State University, where he is working toward a master’s degree in criminal justice. After graduate school, he plans to become a special agent within a violent crime division within the FBI or pursue a law degree to become an attorney within the realm of criminal law.