Jocelyn Pantoja is currently a student at Western Illinois University, studying Law Enforcement and Justice Administration. Read on to learn about how her first year is going so far, and her perspective on being a Pullman Scholar.

What drew you to your college?

More than anything I wanted to make my family proud. As a first-generation student, I am thankful to have the opportunity to attend college and achieve my goals. As a law enforcement major, I hope to protect and serve my community. My degree will open doors to a better life that my parents have worked so hard for.

What are your passions or hobbies?

One of my passions is fighting for social justice reform. I plan on working as a police officer, and eventually as a detective. Within these positions, I know I can be effective in promoting equality, and protecting the rights of minorities. I will encourage my future coworkers to do the same, and with more officers working under this attitude, we will be actively involved in the movement for social justice reform.

One of my hobbies is running, and I love going for a jog before my classes start. Runs wake me up, and energize me to start my day. I feel healthier after a good run, and it helps me stay positive for anything that comes my way each day.

What’s your favorite aspect of college? What has your first semester of college been like?

My favorite aspect about college is experiencing new things. I learn so much about different people, and I gain new perspective on how different people live their daily lives. My roommate, for example, comes from a small town where their closest mall is an hour away. If I need to go to a mall, I could choose between three different ones within 20 minutes of my house! Learning things like this continue to give me a new appreciation for the things I am so used to.

My first semester in college has gone by so quickly, it feels like it was just yesterday when I was trying to hide my tears as I said goodbye to my family on move in day. I really enjoy college, and I have already gotten used to my daily routine. My highlights for this first semester are meeting new people, joining the food pantry club, taking a self-defense class, and going to a school-sponsored haunted house that made me scream like I never have before.

What do you like about being a Pullman Scholar? What does being a Pullman Scholar mean to you?

The opportunities and support the Foundation offers to me are why I like being a Pullman Scholar. I know that if I ever have any questions in life, career, or school, I can always reach out to my fellow scholars or alumni. I feel very welcomed into this wonderful organization, and I’m excited to see how I will be able to help future scholars when I have earned my own degree.

Being a Pullman Scholar means so much to me. I am very thankful for everything they have done for me, and are offering me for the future. Being a Pullman Scholar has given me the opportunity to attend college without the financial burden. This allows me to focus on my education and pursue my goals at Western Illinois University.