Breaking Barriers: Mark Metryoos' Journey to Empower First-Generation Students

Author: Jessica Frazier

Mark Metryoos ‘25, a first-generation American and college student, had limited expectations regarding the opportunities colleges could provide him.

Originally from Orlando, Florida, Metryoos explored options within his home state, prioritizing financial aid in his college decision-making process. His introduction to Notre Dame came through QuestBridge, an organization aiding talented, low-income, first-generation college students in connecting with esteemed universities and securing funding.

“Through the QuestBridge process I had the opportunity to meet with various advisors at Notre Dame,” says Metryoos. “It was clear how distinctively kind they were. They put so much time, effort, and compassion into all of my questions and concerns. It was clear to me they reflected the people who I would surround myself with if I chose to attend Notre Dame.”

Currently a junior pursuing studies in finance and history, Metryoos has developed a passion for guiding fellow students in their own career discernment path, "Recognizing that my journey to this point has not followed a linear path, I am committed to serving as a resource to assist students in identifying their passions and pursuing them," he says. 

Mark Metryoos with a group of friends at a Notre Dame home football game at Notre Dame Stadium.

As a business student, Metryoos observed the challenges encountered by underrepresented students in comprehending the recruitment process, technical skills, and behavioral expectations necessary to pursue their goals, particularly if they lack familiarity with the field. To address this, he established the Equity in Business Initiative, a campus-wide endeavor dedicated to demystifying the business world for students who have encountered barriers to entry or access gaps.

Initially conceived as a newsletter disseminating informational resources and guides, the initiative hopes to evolve into a website that will serve as a one-stop shop for students to explore business as a career path, providing personalized attention to students interested in exploring opportunities in financial services.

Recognizing the need for financial literacy among first-generation, low-income students, Metryoos, who served as former secretary of the diversity council, spearheaded the development of a financial literacy module. He says, “An area where many of my first-generation low-income (FGLI) peers and I struggle is with money management. Financial literacy often takes a back seat for FGLI students who are primarily focused on maintaining good grades, securing employment, and covering upcoming bills. Recognizing this challenge, I endeavored to enhance financial literacy among students to help them learn how to budget, save, and understand commonly used financial concepts.”

Collaborating with 1stSource Bank, Metryoos facilitated the distribution of resources to students, offering valuable insights into financial management. Additionally, he serves as a mentor in the Building Bridges program and sits on the Executive Board of the First-Gen Career Initiative, providing first-generation students with opportunities to explore career paths while fostering a sense of community and pride.

As a leader on campus, Metryoos advises fellow first-generation students, “Be extremely inquisitive. There’s a lot of resources on campus so ask a lot of questions, participate in different events, and support the people who you meet—that’s key to fostering community and personal growth. Once you become part of Notre Dame, you are forever part of this place.”

Watch the video above to hear from Mark what he thinks makes Notre Dame a special place.