Senior Administrative Assistant, Center for Digital Learning & Innovation
BA in Art Practices with a minor in Photography, Portland State University, 2016
What does being first-gen mean to you?
Being first-gen to me is an amazing accomplishment and a big responsibility. I am proud that I successfully completed my degree despite all the struggles I went through. I am honored that I get to wear my success proudly for my parents and family before me who weren't afforded the same opportunity. I feel responsible in being a support system and story to tell for current and future students who also identify as first-gen and need someone to relate to.
What challenges/barriers have you faced or overcome during college?
A challenge I overcame during college was figuring out how to afford it. While this is an issue faced by many students, it was hard as a first-gen student and even harder as a daughter of a single-mom from a family of migrants. Navigating the Financial Aid process and finding scholarships were difficult for me since I had no one experienced to look to for guidance and support. The language barrier and lack of understanding the U.S. education system with my mom made everything a puzzle, but I did get through it. It involved a lot of self-motivation and determination, but with each passing year it became easier to find ways to aid my education.
What resource(s) or support helped you to be successful?
During college I worked several on campus jobs and the support I got from full-time staff is what helped me be successful. My supervisors understood the balance student workers face when juggling school work, activities, and jobs and made sure I had enough time to put school work first. Beyond that, they took the time to get to know me and what my academic interests were. I was seen as more than a student worker. This helped me be successful because they would relate what I was doing in the classroom to projects on the job, allowing me to apply my skills into real world settings.
Do you have an inspirational quote that helped guide you through college?
I don't have an inspirational quote that helped guide me through college, but I often prayed. Prayer is a big part of my life and I can't imagine getting through college without knowing I had God to turn to.
What advice would you give to someone else who is also first-gen?
My advice to someone else who is also first-gen is to find the courage and humility to seek help or advice when you need it. It may seem daunting to be the first in your family to go through this life experience, but it doesn't mean you have to go it alone. At the beginning of my college career it was hard for me to admit that I needed help, but when I finally gave in, what a blessing it was. It felt like my wall of uncertainty came down and instead was filled with a support system I could turn to for the rest of my college career and life.