What does being a first-generation college student mean to you?
I am proud of being able to change the trajectory of my family by going to college. Instead of struggling my entire life, I was able to establish a career. It also made my parents and family very proud, and that is special to me. My graduation from SUNY Oneonta was far more meaningful to me than any other graduation, including master’s and PhD. It was so special to make my family proud.
What obstacles did you face in this context?
I had no idea what I was doing when I first arrived at college. I did not do well, academically, at first. I also didn't realize that a private school probably wasn't the best fit for me, and attended University of Rochester first. When I transferred to Oneonta, I had more support and felt more at home. I didn't know how anything worked, and it took me a couple of years to figure things out (like going to professors’ office hours).
What advice do you have for other first-generation students?
Reach out to the support provided on campus to navigate college. Since you don't necessarily know what questions to ask, just keep stopping by different offices and chat - and go to as many events at these support offices. Maybe get a job on campus in one of the student-focused offices. Things will reveal themselves through that process.