Each of the 3,603 Salt Lake Community College students in the Class of 2018 has taken a unique path to graduation.
One of those graduates is Pedro Hueramo Rico, a 27-year-old first-generation college student who earned a political science degree at SLCC.
Rico and his three siblings were raised by their mother, Antonia Hueramo, who immigrated to the United States from Mexico. As a single parent, she worked two jobs to provide for her family.
Rico credits his mother for cultivating his desire to pursue politics.
“My mother was a very industrious, hard worker,” he says.
Rico hopes to use his degree to promote changes for the poor and to help marginalized communities.
“There was this idea that I would learn more about the systems of government to better help society. I wanted to enlighten myself so I could do that,” he says.
Rico was a very active member of the SLCC community. As a member of the student advisory board with the Utah Campus Compact, he has been a fierce advocate for people he felt were struggling and underrepresented.
“I see there is a lack of representation for minorities in our community,” Rico told Utah Campus Compact. “I want to be a conduit for change for them to dream big and reach their potential. It’s disheartening seeing the achievement gap between people of color and their white counterparts. That is what motivates me to promote change.”
Rico also worked closely with the SLCC Bruin Campus Cupboard, not only by donating his time, but by promoting the pantries on campus and helping to elevate the issue of food insecurity.
Outside of his interest in politics, Rico is a talented artist. Working primarily in acrylics, he describes his art as metaphysical in nature.
Questioning his place and perception, he has used art to explore where he fits in the world. Recognizing that his art has evolved along his path of education, Rico says, “my art went from a form of catharsis to illuminating those questions.”
Rico knows that many students from a similar background can feel overwhelmed and unable to navigate the educational system. He admits that a lack of representation made him question his own ability.
Rico feels many of these students have an internal stigma and a feeling that they can’t take certain paths. He encourages them to keep pushing forward.
“You are not alone. You are worth it. Once you finish your degree path everything will change,” he says. “This is bigger than you. You are giving that opportunity to your kids and creating a precedent for change. You are enabling future generations to truly prosper.”
Regarding SLCC, Rico says he had great instructors and classes, but what he will miss most is the meaningful interactions with students. He has enjoyed listening to them and finding out what their issues are.
After graduating from SLCC, Rico would like to continue his education at Westminster College in the Politics, Justice and Global Studies program. His political goal is to work here in Salt Lake City, focusing on his advocacy of public education, fair housing and financial literacy in marginalized communities.