UVU Pride Month Stories: Ivette Pimentel

The first time Ivette Pimentel set foot on Utah Valley University’s Orem Campus, she felt like she belonged.


The first time Ivette Pimentel (she/her) set foot on Utah Valley University’s Orem Campus, she felt like she belonged.

Both of Ivette’s parents are from Mexico, so walking past UVU’s Multicultural Students Services center and seeing a group of students practicing a dance routine there was amazing, she says. But then her tour took her past the LGBT Student Services office.

“At that time, I didn't know anything,” she says. “I kind of knew, but not really. But I just felt, ‘Oh my gosh, that's where I want to be.’ I didn’t say it out loud. But in my mind, I was like, ‘That's where I'm going to be all the time.’ And I just felt really welcome and at home here.”

Ivette grew up in Salt Lake County and says she originally didn’t have a way to describe what she was feeling. “In middle school, I remember having a crush on a girl,” she says, “but I didn't know that it was a crush, because I didn't see anyone like me, or have anyone to talk to about it. I feel like if I had seen more of that in the world, I would [have been] more comfortable and it wouldn't [have been] so confusing and lonely.”

She says she started becoming more aware of her bisexuality during her last two years of high school. After seeing a friend in a same-sex relationship, she realized she wanted to experience that, too.

The sense of belonging that Ivette felt during her tour at UVU left an impact. She applied to attend and received assistance from UVU’s First-Generation Student Success Center, and joined the I Am First LEAD Program, a one-year leadership development program for new first-generation freshmen at UVU.

Living in I Am First LEAD housing, Ivette felt more free to explore and experiment, including attending events held by Spectrum, the queer student alliance at UVU.

“That's where I started exploring a little bit,” she says. “And I went to all the Spectrum club activities. That's when I started to get to know people around UVU. And I just felt really comfortable here.”

Ivette originally wanted to become a police officer, firefighter, or emergency medical technician, but after taking UVU concurrent enrollment classes in high school and completing a couple of internships, she decided on a different path. Now she is studying public relations and strategic communication.

“I know that I want to work with people who have the same values and mindsets as me,” she says. “And I want to encourage other people, especially first-generation students or students of color, to do whatever makes them happy.”

To other UVU students, or anyone considering studying here, Ivette says they’ll be sure to find people to connect with.

“Whatever they identify with, or whatever they are, whatever group they are a part of, they will find that at UVU,” she says. “Whether that’s being part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, there's a group of people for whatever you’re doing, or whatever you want to do.”