Former Peer Mentors


Chase Ford photograph

Chase Ford

I’m so excited to be a First Gen Roo mentor! I’m a soon-to-be triple major in Political Science, Environmental Studies, and Philosophy entering my junior year. If you couldn’t tell I like to stay busy so I’m also the Senior Student Recruitment Ambassador for Arts & Sciences, the President of the Mock Trial Team, and a volunteer for Royal Family Kids Camp. After I graduate I plan on going to law school to pursue environmental law and policy. Outside of class you can usually find me researching memes, playing Mario Kart with friends, and looking for the best onion rings in Kansas City.


Jacob Furry photograph

Jacob Furry

I am a junior here at UMKC studying Music Education and Psychology. I have a passion for helping people succeed and increasing educational opportunities for everyone, regardless of background or location, and I love doing this through my involvement in the Trustee’s Scholars Program and as president of the UMKC chapter of the National Association for Music Education. In my free time, I love to explore all that Kansas City has to offer.


Victoria Gomez photograph

Victoria Gomez

As a first generation student, I enjoy learning different perspectives and how my history helps me to move forward. I am a senior at UMKC and will graduate in December with a BA in Communication Studies with an emphasis in journalism and a minor in Criminology. Born in Missouri, but raised in Kansas, I spent most of my time playing outdoors, arts and crafts, and cooking with my grandmother. My cat and dog are rocks in my life and share my love of adventure. I value respectable morals and believe in the ability for people to improve and learn through raised awareness.


Samantha Hays photograph

Samantha Hays

I am a senior at UMKC working on a double degree in biology and chemistry. I am from Monroe City, Missouri – where you are significantly more likely to interact with a cow than a person – and I am still excited to be living in the city! I have worked as a medical first responder, a lab assistant at Children’s Mercy, a UMKC School of Law assistant, a tutor, and a live-in UMKC residential assistant – but being a first generation student is the role I take the most pride in.


Lia Hernandez photograph

Thalia “Lia” Hernandez

I am 22 years old, and planning to graduate with my Bachelors in Economics this fall. I was born and raised in Kansas City, KS and attended Sumner Academy of Arts and Science. Coming to UMKC was the best decision I could have made for my future, as I’ve found a second home. As a first generation college student myself, I can’t wait to connect with you and share some experiences!


Kelli Johnson

I will be a senior in the fall. I was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, where I found my love for music and theater. I’m studying Psychology and French, and I hope to work in a field where I can intersect the two such as speech pathology! I love to travel and am always looking for my next adventure. I can’t wait to help other first generation students find their home here at UMKC and reach their full potential!


Amaal Sheikhadan

I am a sophomore at UMKC majoring in Criminal Justice and Criminology and minoring in Political Science. My favorite pastimes include photography, sight-seeing, and trying new restaurants. As a first generation college student, I hope that serving in this role as a mentor will grant me the opportunity to guide and positively impact the college experiences of my mentees!


Helene Slinker

I am a senior first generation student at UMKC, majoring in Political Science, with minors in German Language and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Post-graduation, I am interested in attending law school. During my time at UMKC, I have been involved on campus as a Trustees’ Scholar, an Honors College discussion leader, and member of the debate team. I am also very passionate about studying abroad – I’ve done so twice! I went on a faculty-led trip to Senegal and an independent trip to Prague, Czech Republic. I am so excited to work with a community of first gen students at UMKC!


Austin Thorn photograph

Austin Thorn

I am a native of St. Louis, and I’m going into my last year of a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. I serve as President of UMKC’s Association of Music Therapy Students. My goals include working with children both at home and abroad and pursuing a graduate degree in music therapy. I love to travel. I’ve been to Peru and Germany on scholarship because the best way to travel is to get paid to do it. I’m looking forward to working with students of the First Gen Roo program and helping them to succeed in the KC community.