First-Generation Lens

First-Generation Lens

I am a first-generation student, meaning I am the first person in my immediate family to attend college. Holding this identity is a privilege, which can be stressful at times.

My end goal: to be able to graduate.

Flying from California to Chicago with my mom during Freshman move-in, she expressed worry. She helped me get the essentials by taking me to Target to purchase dorm supplies and to buy school supplies. The next important component was visiting the Sullivan Student Center to meet with the financial aid department.

I remember my mother expressing her concerns with the payment process with the financial aid counselor. She expected that we would be eligible for more grants by being first-generation. Thank you to the FAFSA application, a new source I learned which helps students receive grants, federal work study (so you can have a job on campus) and much more, for being an outlet to fund my college education. My journey of me becoming independent began in that room, with my mother and I, two vulnerable and confused people, who cared so much about my college success.

We visited another office where we were introduced to the Achieving College Excellence (ACE) Director, who coordinates a government funded program for first-generation college students like me. As we left his office, my mom was fixated on the idea of me joining this program. The benefits of what they provide students such as advising and free printing was what she wanted me to take advantage of.

My mother, as loving and supportive a person she is, can only guide me to a certain point in this process. There were a lot of things I was unsure about and I had to motivate myself to reach out and find the answers. So once she flew back to California and first week of classes began, I realized what was ahead of me. Asking for help when I need it was more prominent than ever.

My mother and I during my high school graduation.

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