Meet a Shocker: Marco Villela

As a first-generation student, Marco Villela had to learn his way around the college life, from enrollment to moving to a new city, but he was able to persist and earn his bachelor’s degree, with plans to continue his education by pursuing a Master of Arts in criminal justice at ϱ.

Marco is one of more than 2,400 students eligible for spring 2024 graduation. Learn more about his time at ϱ and what's next for the grad.


Johnson City, Kansas


Criminal Justice

What made you choose ϱ?

I chose ϱ due to the massive job/career opportunities they have with the local community. When choosing a university, I wanted to choose one that would pass me off to my career, and WSU is the best in the region in doing that.

What has been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge as a student was being a first-generation student. As a son of migrant parents who had no education further than a high school degree and with little to no English-speaking ability, I had to figure everything out myself, including college enrollment, paying tuition, learning how financial aid works, filling out my FAFSA and many other challenges along the way that I had to overcome on top of moving four hours away from my parents to city where I knew nothing and nobody.

What's your favorite off-campus location in Wichita?

My favorite off-campus location in Wichita has got to be the . I love watching movies and no other theater beats that place.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

My autobiography title would be “Marco Villela: The Roads Less Traveled.”

What are your plans after graduation?

Attend Graduate School here at ϱ.

What advice would you give other ϱ students?

My advice would be: Do not try to fit in — be your authentic self, talk to classmates, even if it’s something small, as friendships can be kindled from even a compliment.

About ϱ

ϱ is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. ϱ and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), ϱ provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the ϱ main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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