A stellar student experience is personal for leader, alumna, and mom, Kasey Urquidez
Feb. 24, 2020

By Kasey Urquidez, Vice President of Enrollment Management & Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, University of Arizona

I’m now a University of Arizona mom as well as an alumna and administrator.

In 2018, I welcomed my daughter Maricela to the university. Her Wildcat Journey demonstrates the care and consideration my colleagues and I strive to provide to students every day, as well as what I experienced myself.

Almost 30 years ago, a student recruiter in admissions called to encourage me to attend Arizona, and that personal touch convinced me to bear down. I was a first-generation college student embracing the unknown. The New Start program, a summer program that introduces incoming first-year students to the university, along with the personal attention I received from faculty during my undergraduate experience, allowed me to explore different career paths until I found my passion in college admissions. I wanted to spend my career giving back to the university that had given so much to me.

In the years that have followed, I have guided thousands of potential students through those first steps knowing each and every student would be shown the same care and attention I received. It has been a joy and a privilege to work at my alma mater.

My daughter’s experience as a Wildcat is now giving me new reasons to be grateful. I’ve seen firsthand that we’re making good on everything we promise to students.

Her first year started off shaky. She sprained her ankle badly the weekend before classes began. She struggled getting around campus. Additionally, students in one of her small classes took a personality and leadership quiz. She found she was unlike everyone in the room and quickly felt like an outcast. This, compounded with struggling on crutches, made her wonder if she had selected the right major.

Maricela persisted, yet struggled, those first few months. In fact, she had not found her fit in many of her classes. I expected that. I try to prepare parents of new college students for this. Change is hard, and I knew there would be tears at different times during the semester.

Around mid-semester, something magical happened. One of Maricela’s instructors asked to meet with her. Afterward, I received a text that read, “Mom, I just had the best meeting of my life!” Her instructor talked to her about her passions and interests and helped her strategize about other educational areas she might want to pursue. Without this personalized outreach, I am confident my daughter would have continued to struggle.

My daughter's college experience changed that day. She moved on to another major and feels confident in her choice. The care and support she received from that instructor are what Arizona is all about. Her instructor continued to follow up, including emailing her at the end of her first semester to tell her how proud she was of her, and then again at the start of the spring semester to wish her well. It is the little things. They add up and make such a difference.

I am also grateful for the wide variety of educational options my daughter is exploring. Listening to her describe the Middle Eastern studies coursework and Mexican American studies class is enlightening. I’m thrilled to see her enjoyment in expanding her understanding of different cultures — as well as learning more about her own — and the relevancy to the world we live in. Her instructors' expectations and encouragement push my daughter to reach her full potential.

Outside the classroom, Maricela has been fortunate to work on campus. Her office is a built-in family that supports her as a student and whole person. My heart is grateful knowing the university is doing exactly what we share with prospective students and families. We are educating innovative problem solvers, with leadership skills and the ability to think creatively.