“I am both frightened and empowered (as the few students of color on campus)” N.G.*, a first year student, shared to the prospective students in the room.

And I thought to myself, wow, that is also me.

At this predominantly white institution, I am frighten as a first-generation and low-income student of color. When I walk into any classroom, I immediately take noticed of the racial makeup of it. Usually, it is another student and me who are the only students of color. I become fully conscious of how I pronounce every word, of how hostile or open my body language is, of who is speaking and who is not, of who is making eye contact with whom and who is excluded. As a first generation and low-income student, do I belong here?

Yet, I am empowered by that very same idea. I am empowered to be more of me unyieldingly, unapologetically, and unashamed. I am empowered that as a first-generation and low-income student of color, my existence challenges what higher education is and what it can be to better serve students like me.

*a pseudonym was used in order to keep the confidentiality of this student.