“No matter where I go or what I do, CSUSB is my university. It has helped me learn who I am.” CSU San Bernardino computer science student Erika Gutierrez wants to create robotics that transform the lives of people with disabilities. But it wasn’t so long ago she had trouble even picturing herself at college. Page ContentShy. Timid. Full of self-doubt. Just two years ago, Erika Gutierrez might have used these words to describe herself. As a freshman at California State University, San Bernardino, Gutierrez enrolled in business courses, thinking her skill in math might lead to a career in finance or accounting. It didn't take long for her to figure out that her talents — and interests — lay elsewhere. Specifically, she wanted to write code, something she knew she'd need to learn in the School of Computer Science and Engineering at CSU San Bernardino. "I explained [to a faculty advisor] my worries and nerves about switching into the major," remembers Gutierrez, a Student Assistance In Learning (SAIL) student. The advisor assured the straight-A student that she could definitely learn how to program and code. "[He] brought up my self-esteem and within a matter of days … I switched my major." That turned out to be just one of many encounters with supportive professors and peer mentors at CSUSB. These are the people on which the 20-year-old computer science student says she relies: "The faculty and staff see my capabilities even when I don't. They push me even when I don't feel that I am good enough ... No matter where I go or what I do, CSUSB is my university. It has helped me learn who I am." x Breaking New Ground Born and raised in San Bernardino, Gutierrez didn't plan on going to college. It wasn't that she and her family avoided talking about higher education; they were simply unsure how to begin the process or how they would pay for Erika's education. It was only through college workshops and conversations with a high school counselor that Gutierrez became intrigued by what a bachelor's degree offered. In fall 2015, she enrolled at CSUSB. "There is a lot of trial and error involved as a first-generation student," she notes. "But I also feel like this makes [first-generation students] more independent — we have to go out there and find these resources because we don't have our parents or anyone else to turn to for advice or help." Still, Gutierrez counts her mother and father, Carmen and Mario, as her biggest supporters and her inspiration. When learning coding seemed daunting, she summoned up an example set by Carmen. "My mom was able to teach herself English, so I figured I could teach myself how to use and create these computer programs," she says.