Where did you attend college?
University of North Carolina at Wilmington
What was your college experience like as a first-generation college student?
Having the opportunity to attend university was a source of intense pride and confirmation that my and my family's hard work and sacrifice was worth it. My first day was both a source of excitement and relief. But it was also hard and disorienting. No one tells you how to succeed as a student (beyond just passing your classes), how to network with your peers and professors, or even how to live a healthy life. Everyone is a stranger and family often have a hard time understanding your daily struggles as you've "made it."
Being a first-generation college student is exhilarating, but it also comes with a weight of responsibility that our friends and family often cannot understand.
What message do you have to share with current first-generation college students?
My family and I thought that having the opportunity to go to university was the golden ticket in and of itself. We didn't have the experience or knowledge to seek out all of the extracurricular opportunities that are essential for success. And we didn't understand the value of gaining additional education after the Bachelors.
Santa Clara University has a wealth of resources and support. Don't be afraid to reach out to get the help or advice you deserve. Reach out for mentoring, seek those internships if you can, join student groups, and make those connections. Seek out additional education, if that's right for you.
Don't forget to prioritize your health: find a doctor you trust, talk to a therapist if you need, or seek spiritual guidance in whatever form works best for you. It's more important than you think.
And be proud of your status. You've earned it.