My name is Julio Cazares, and I am a 2018 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I am also a 2021 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law. I would not be where I am today without the help of my friends, family, OASES, and UNC Charlotte.
Although I had always wanted to attend college, I never seemed to have the time or resources to make this goal possible. However, I always knew a college education was the key to a brighter future. So, at the age of 25, after working various jobs, I finally saved up enough money to attend a single semester at a community college. I knew that this was my one chance to succeed, so I focused as much as I could on my studies had earned a 4.0 GPA. This focus allowed me to transfer to UNC Charlotte in 2015 and earn the Osher Reentry scholarship. This scholarship was established to support undergraduate students like myself who had a gap of five years or more in their education and were pursuing their first baccalaureate degree.
I always assumed that my experience as an adult was going to be different from a traditional college experience, and after attending my SOAR Orientation, I knew I was right! I saw how amazing UNC Charlotte’s campus was, but I didn't see other adult students right away. Thankfully, OASES was there with an Adult Student information session. I learned how scholarship opportunities, community meet-ups, and academic support programs, like the UCAE, Math-Lab, and Writing Resource Center, could help me succeed at UNC Charlotte.
Thanks to OASES, I had the chance to connect with many adult students and faculty across campus, and it's made all the difference. OASES gave me the confidence to succeed. That confidence was rewarded as I was fortunate enough to receive the Osher Reentry Scholarship and the James S. McCormack Rotary Scholarship. These scholarships are offered through OASES to give students like you and me the chance to succeed at UNC Charlotte while easing the financial burden of collegiate education. In addition, OASES and its philanthropic partners offer over twenty scholarships aimed at directly helping adult and non-traditional students achieve great success at UNC Charlotte. In short, if you need help, OASES is here for you.
In 2018, I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from UNC Charlotte. However, in my senior year, I knew that my educational journey wasn't over – and in 2018, I enrolled at the University of Mississippi School of Law. Thanks to UNC Charlotte and OASES, I was more than prepared for this adventure. I received the Deans's Scholarship and additional merit-based scholarships. OASES gave me the confidence to succeed in any space, and as a law student, I served as the vice-president of the Ole Miss OUTLaw chapter, as a staff editor of the Mississippi Sports Law Journal, as a Student Clinician for the
Mississippi Innocence Project, and as the National Vice-Chair for the National Latina/o Law Student Association. In 2018, I became the first Mexican- American senator elected to the UM Law Student Bar Association, and in 2021 I received the faculty awarded John Robin Bradley award for my commitment to social justice and the 2021 National LGBTQ+ Bar Association Student Leadership Award. Currently, I am an Employee Benefits Security Administration Investigator with the United States Department of Labor.
I say all of this not to boast about my achievements but to remind you of what you can achieve now that you are a UNC Charlotte student and member of the OASES family. As an adult student, I hope the unique challenges you face never make you feel like you can't fully participate in educational opportunities, academic achievement, or leadership positions at UNC Charlotte. These opportunities are just as exciting as when we all decided to go back to school, and as an adult student, you can do so much while you're here! There are so many experiences, opportunities, and rewards waiting for you at UNC Charlotte, and with the help of OASES, anything is possible.