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Graduating senior receives full-ride to Michigan State University’s doctoral program

2019 RJT Byline

Gerson Guevara is set to graduate with a degree in urban studies and political science. He has received an all expense paid fellowship to Michigan State University. Guevara says he is blessed. "There have always been a lot of opportunities made available to me. Like I said, coming to Jackson State. It was only by chance that I learned about Jackson State by attending a college fair." (Photo by Rachel James-Terry)

Gerson Guevara is set to graduate with an undergraduate degree in urban studies and political science. He has received an all expense paid fellowship to Michigan State University. Guevara says he is blessed. “There have always been a lot of opportunities made available to me. Like I said, coming to Jackson State. It was only by chance that I learned about Jackson State by attending a college fair.” (Photo by Charles A. Smith)

Gerson Guevara, graduating senior, talks a lot – at least that is one way he describes himself.

“Communicating is one of the things I like to do very much, which is why it wasn’t hard to adjust (at JSU) as a freshman. It’s easy for me to talk to people,” he explains.

The urban studies and political science major recently learned of his all-expense paid acceptance into Michigan State University’s five-year doctoral program.

“After my second year of study, if I successfully meet the requirements, I will be awarded my master’s degree. I will then continue straight through to my doctorate,” he says.

Relieved to now know where he is headed, Guevara admits that the waiting game caused him some anxiety. “A big part of applying to graduate schools involve imposter syndrome. You wonder if you really measure up to the other candidates,” he shares. “That was just a thought in my head even the day before I received my acceptance letter. I was worried about not getting any acceptance letters.”

Born in Virginia, but raised in Brandywine, Maryland, Guevara learned about Jackson State University at a college fair hosted at his high school. At the time, Guevara planned to be a nurse and says the alumnus at the recruitment table sold him on JSU’s biology program.

However, the senior changed his major to urban studies before starting at the university. He now plans to be a professor. “It’s a natural fit as someone who has always been into reading and writing,” says Guevara, who holds a 3.64 GPA.

Guevara’s parents, Jose and Ana Guevara, are from El Salvador and migrated to the United States as young adults. They work together in the construction business. He also has a younger brother, Joel, who will graduate from high school this spring.

Guevara explains that growing up, his mom and dad were asbestos removal workers who spent almost ten years employed at the Pentagon after 9/11. “They were doing a complete overhaul of the building, so they took that time also to get rid of the asbestos. My dad was my mother’s supervisor,” he says with a proud smile.

When Guevara received his admission email from Michigan State, he immediately called his parents.

“They were really happy that I got accepted into the program. It’s sunk in, but sometimes it’s hard to believe that you’ve been awarded something like this. So I print out the email sometimes just to remind me that it’s real,” he says.

Now in his last semester at ‘Thee I Love,’ Guevara has time to reflect on his journey at the HBCU. He shares that he has enjoyed his higher education matriculation and his involvement in organizations like the Fannie Lou Hamer Law Society and the DuBois Debate Team.

“When I first got here, I adjusted pretty well. I made friends pretty quickly. I think I underestimated how busy and involved college is outside of classes,” he says. “Having more friends, having a social life, and doing extracurricular activities is when college started to become hard. I had to learn to balance several responsibilities all at once.”

If he had to choose the best and most distinguishable trait about his soon-to-be alma mater, Guevara says it is the community within.

“Honestly, to be successful at JSU, you have to make good use of your community whether that is personal or professional. There were some tough times where I needed to rely on my friends or where I needed to talk to my professors and ask for guidance, and that has been really beneficial for me to get to where I am,” he says.