GWYou: Karely Chavez-Callejas

First-Generation College Student Appreciates Professors Who Create a Supportive Learning Environment

GWYou: Karely Chavez-Callejas

When Karely Chavez-Callejas, of Hickory, N.C., graduates from Gardner-Webb University in 2021, she will fulfill a dream for herself and her parents, who arrived in America from Mexico 20 years ago. They were looking for a better life for themselves and their future children. Karely will be the first in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“They left everything they knew behind and came here seeking opportunities to work,” she reflected.

A healthcare management major, Karely received a Presidential Scholarship as well as the Director’s Choice award. She is in the Honors Program and a member of the Model United Nations Team.

Q: How did your parents support you as the first in your family to go to college?

Karely: My parents' hard work and sacrifice have kept me motivated to never give up. I worked hard, because I had the disadvantage of not knowing any English when I started school. My parents knew very little English, but they would always do what they could to help me. I remember my father staying up with me to finish my reading comprehension homework. We sat at the kitchen table for hours with a Spanish-English dictionary as we tried to figure out what certain words meant. I have been fortunate enough to have both of my parents’ support throughout my life, and I will forever be grateful for their support. They have been there for me at performances, competitions, sports events and much more.

Q: Why did you choose Gardner-Webb and how did you decide on your major?

Karely: Gardner-Webb made me feel welcome from the very first time I visited. I instantly felt at home. I have always been interested in doing something in the healthcare field, but business administration and management was also something that interested me, so I decided to major in healthcare management to get a mixture of the two things that interested me.

Q: What do you value most about your Gardner-Webb experience?

Karely: I value the close relationships that I have made. I am close to my professors and feel comfortable asking for help, even if it does not involve our class. My professors have helped me find internships. I have also made meaningful connections and friendships with other students.