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University student beats odds, becomes first woman in her family to go to college

Jannet Frias comes from a family of migrant workers who didn't know if they'd be able to help her with college.

TOLEDO, Ohio — It's the last week of Hispanic Heritage Month. 

One University of Toledo student is overcoming the odds as a Latina, honoring her heritage by breaking barriers and becoming the first woman in her family to go to college.

This is her story of determination and how it can help inspire others. 

For most Latina women, education doesn't come easily. 

"There was so many people that were so against me coming up here," said Jannet Frias. "Like close family and friends were like 'oh she's not gonna make it past the first year.'" 

Frias shrugged off the doubters. She's a senior at the University of Toledo, majoring as a Special Education Intervention Specialist. 

She comes from a family of migrant workers who didn't know if they'd be able to help her with college. 

"Latin folks, specifically Latinas, we see that there's discrepancies amongst our population when compared to their white male counterparts as an example," explained Aleiah Jones, Interim Director, Office of Multicultural Student Success Team at UToledo. "And so we see that lower numbers of enrolled and graduating students, and that is a national trend."  

But Frias has beat those odds, earning a full ride to UToledo through a scholarship program. 

She's done so well that just last week, she was presented with the Latino Youth Leadership award from the Latino Alliance of Northwest Ohio. 

Credit: Jannet Frias

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"Honestly I was very surprised to receive the award. I was not expecting it. But it was truly like a great, proud moment of myself. All the time I feel like I'm not doing enough on this campus," said Frias. "But just receiving that award showed me that, wow, all my accomplishments have led me to this moment." 

"Overall, Jannet has been a leader on campus since the day she stepped foot here," said Jones. "She not only is here to promote and take on leadership for herself but she is representing the Latino community on campus." 

Once she graduates in May, not only will she be the first woman in her family to go to college, but also the first to go for a master's degree.

"I never thought I would make it this far with all my accomplishments," admitted Frias. "But I definitely think going on a different route than you're expected to do is like, you can definitely make those decisions yourself." 

And reach out to other leaders if you need encouragement.