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José Lee-Perez

What does it mean to be Academic Success Advocate?

Advocacy begins with an observation, transitions to how you feel of that observation, and becomes what you want to accomplish.  An Academic Success Advocate is an individual willing to listen and carries a passion for seeing students aspire for success.  It is someone who is willing to be in your corner and is invested in your academic journey. Each student has their own experience navigating college, and an Academic Success Advocate is there to foster a relationship that encourages growth and academic exploration. As a student admitted to the University of Tennessee we see your capability and an advocate is your resource to reach what success means to you. An Advocate will challenge your perspective, work with you to overcome and prevent academic distress. To be an Academic Success Advocate means to want to bridge your student experience with university resources. As a student, your goal is to learn. An Academic Success advocate to me is someone willing to work with you to create a healthy learning process and environment.

Share your undergraduate experience or journey.

I was asked to address the question, “Who Am I?”, in a freshmen seminar course. As an 18-year-old, I remember saying, “I’m introverted, Mexican-American, bilingual, a brother, and a first-generation college student.” Fast forward a few weeks into my freshmen year, I quickly was pulled into the social life of college and neglected my studies. I made a choice and my GPA showed at the end of my freshmen year. It cost me the Hope Scholarship for a semester and a much larger out of pocket expense. As student coming from a low-income family, that additional cost was my responsibility. While it was my lowest point in my academic career, it brought back the question “Who am I?”. It took some time, but as a returning sophomore I knew I was capable of more. From there on I made the choice to focus on becoming the first person in my family to graduate from college. From there I drew confidence in my knowledge, comfort to make my voice heard, and passion to learn about diversity. My college journey started with me feeling it was 1 vs 100. At the end of my college career I knew I had more people in my corner. If I was able to change anything about my college journey, I would not change any of the trials I faced as a college student. I know it helped shape who I am now, and my passion to help other’s reach for their own success.

Outside of work I…

Outside of work I enjoy being at home with all the pets. I call my home the “Lee-Perez Wild Kingdom”. Feel free to ask me about them as I’d be happy to share all the miss-adventures of my two dogs, cat, and tiny mouse. Other than that, I enjoy cooking, binge watching Netflix, or catch me and my partner strolling Market Square in downtown Knoxville during festivals and events.

My Pledge to you…

My pledge to you will be simple. My pledge is to encourage, support, mentor, and learn with you. Together we will navigate the University of Tennessee in order for you to not only be a UT Vol, but a UT graduate.