When asked the question “How would you describe yourself?,” not many people would answer as clearly as Emerald Alcantar. Alcantar, a First Generation (FG) Scholar, describes herself as a chameleon. Alcantar realizes she faces, and will continue to face, certain life situations that will be challenging and she may not always be “in the place where I want to be,” but, like a chameleon, she always tries her best to blend in, regardless of the circumstances. She says being a chameleon “allows her to fit in” and conquer the demands she confronts so that she is “educationally successful, spiritually successful, and in good health.”

Alcantar equates success to learning.  “I’m successful in something if I’ve learned from it.  If I make a mistake, I try to see how it didn’t work out for me, and then I try again,” Alcantar explained.  “And it may take me several tries before I reach success.”

In her successful three year academic career at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Alcantar has discovered there are always opportunities in life to evolve as a person. “I have a lot of growing to do. I’ve learned it’s when I think I have it all figured out that I discover I have it wrong. These are opportunities to grow and change and evolve as long as I’m willing to allow that to happen.”  Alcantar has used her evolution as a student and a person by being a positive influence on the lives of other FG scholars.

Alcantar’s passion for influencing others was a determining factor in her choice of major.  She was attracted to the public relations field because her main focus in life is to help others through her love for writing. “PR gives me an opportunity to help people and educate myself to the point where I can bring awareness to the public,” Alcantar said. She was encouraged by Saint Mary’s department of communication and among other campus faculty and staff,  because they saw that she would excel in the public relations field.

After graduation, Alcantar would like to gain more public relations experience in hopes of embarking on a journey of advocacy. “I would love to represent an organization that is trying to bring awareness on certain controversial issues,” Alcantar said. “I would like to stand with people who continue to be marginalized by society, and that is why I would like to advocate for Immigration Reform and LGBT rights.” Because of Alcantar’s dedication to equal rights, she has a desire to study corporate law in order to understand how stakeholders, employees, and consumers interact with one another and then share with others how companies represent themselves to the public.

Alcantar’s passion for advocacy is clearly apparent in her devotion to the mission of the FGI program. “In the tough economic time that this country currently faces, we have minorities who do not have access to education simply because they do not have all the right resources and are not able to afford a college education.” She believes it is important for the FGI program to continue to make a difference. “We need to give opportunities to the Latino and African-American communities because these students can make a difference in society,” Alcantar added. Alcantar is already on her way to making a difference.