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First-generation students graduating from U. of Utah

Program gives support to young Utahns who are first in their families to attend college.

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"I was told I wasn’t ever going to go to college," he said. "I thought I would just play sports."

His parents didn’t push their youngest of six toward education. But when he enrolled in East High School, an intensive reading program with a good teacher got him into Advanced Placement English.

At a glance

University of Utah ceremony set

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Alex Smith, a University of Utah alum who plays quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, will give the commencement address at the university’s main graduation ceremony at the Jon Huntsman Center, 1825 E South Campus Drive.

Most individual college ceremonies will be held Friday. For more information see commencement.utah.edu.

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"After that semester, I loved to write," he said.

He credits a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with giving him the confidence to appeal to a U. committee weighing whether to admit him into the university. After an internship with the U.’s information technology group, he’s got a job offer from the department before graduation.

Monty Kaufusi said his cousin’s constant presence as the program’s director, along with a scholarship that covers tuition and books, makes the difference for Opportunity Scholars.

"We had hard times growing up; we didn’t have a lot of support when it came to college; we didn’t have financial support; we didn’t have someone helping us to learn," he said. "All of us just needed that extra little support ... someone that’s there if you fall... Just feeling like you’re part of something on campus helps."

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com" target="_blank">class="BOX_Text_w_Indent">lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst

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