Bulldog Blog

News and Views from the University of Redlands

First-gen sisters pave way for others

Emily Rosales ’15 sits with sister and fellow Bulldog Jade Rosales ’25. (Photo by Nikki Ramirez '22)

Emily Rosales ’15, who was the first in her family to go to college, came to the University of Redlands looking for a home away from home; she found passion, resiliency, and a voice to advocate for greater change. And, in the process, she paved the way for her younger sister, Jade Rosales ’25, to find her own place at Redlands.

Upon entering college, Emily had a passion for the arts, wanting to become a music teacher in Latin Jazz, but soon found her calling within Latin American Studies. Outside of academics, she was part of Students Together Empowering Peers (STEP) as a lead mentor for first-generation first-year students.

She was also one of the founding members of a group called Oralé. “We [Latinx/Hispanic students] needed a space for us,” she says. “I wanted to be with other Spanish speakers because at home, we spoke Spanish. Since we didn’t have an area that was just for us, it was very difficult to adjust.”

"I was proud of my resiliency," says Rosales. "My ability to succeed and excel, when it felt like there was more working for my failure than my success, was only possible because of the communities and individuals who supported me."

An innovative legacy

Although Emily has now graduated from both the College of Arts and Sciences’ Latin American Studies program and the U of R’s School of Education, her younger sister is continuing her legacy and innovating her own change within the Redlands community.

Jade, a race and ethnic studies major, is an active member of STEP, Class of 2025 Senate Chair, and a member of the Mental Health and the Food Action Committee (FAC).

“Within my committees, I’d like to normalize mental health [issues],” says Jade. “I’d also like to create a better relationship between the student body and Harvest Table.”

Although Jade is in her first year at the U of R, she aspires to transform the way people of color (POC) are represented on campus: “The POC on campus shouldn’t have to feel out of place or like the only reason they should be attending is for the financial aid.”

Jade notes her oldest sister created the blueprint she wants to renew and innovate. “I look up to the fact that she was able to manage all her classes,” says Jade. “She was able to stay involved and make an impact at Redlands.” 

A note of wisdom left behind

Emily’s passion for teaching has brought her back to her high school alma mater, Palm Springs High School, where she is currently a Spanish teacher for 9th and 10th-grade students. 

"I bring transparency to my classroom, and I don't lie to them,” states Emily. "[Many of us] never got to read literature or talk to a teacher who is like-minded until we reach college. As a woman of color, I like to keep the integrity of my identity in my classroom."

As an educator, Emily encourages not only her sister but also other students to read, take action, and remember self-care. She urges them to “put their ideas and ethics into action and never believe they’re done learning, all while not forgetting to take care of themselves by doing things they enjoy.”

As a passionate educator and admiring sister, Emily expresses her wish for her younger sister as she continues her legacy at Redlands: “I hope she learns to fight and to love.”

Learn more about programs of study and first-generation student programs at the University of Redlands.