I would have to say, getting asked to write a blog post about my own experiences to share with people around the world was a pretty thrilling experience. All of my life I have struggled with the idea of people only looking at me at face value. Before I begin I would love to introduce myself.

My name is Jazzy Sakaniwa. I am a 3rd year college student at Saint Mary’s College of California. I am 20 years young, and I for one definitely do not have all of the answers. You would think that by 20 I would have most of my life figured out. I am here to tell you this misconceptions is exactly that. A misconception. I may not have all of my life figured out but I have come to the conclusion that not having everything together can be a good thing. It means that there is constant learning happening. Coming to college my first gen identity was something that I did not think affected my everyday life. It was not until my third year that I realized how my first gen identity has everything to do with my life. It is something that I now proudly showcase as one of the best parts about me.

I had mentioned that I am used to people looking at me at face value. It was more often than not that when people learned that I was a first generation college student, I was discredited for almost all of my life experiences, I was not taken seriously, and a lot of the times doubted for my academic ability. It was hard, and to be honest with you. It continues to be hard even to this day. Some days it was easier to keep my mouth shut and not complain about how I was feeling in regards to my first gen identity.

I have come a long way since then. I am now a lead peer mentor in the first gen program on campus and I am absolutely loving it. I have found my voice to speak truth about what it is like to be a first generation college student. Up to this moment there have been times that I,  and I am sure many of you have had to struggle to get where you wanted to be, or could even be currently struggling to get there now. I am here to say that sometimes that feeling does not go away. There will always be times in which you struggle because you are first gen. I have to believe that struggling makes you stronger and more equipped to be in higher education.

I was told this poem over the summer with my first generation family on campus and I thought it was really important to share here…

” I am here with intention and purpose,

I will build on the things that I know,

I will build on the skills that I bring,

I may not always know where I am going,

But I will ask for help along the way,

I’ve got this, We’ve got this, We’ve got each other ”

Although there are days people take you at face value, of just being a first gen student, and all of the common misconceptions that come with that identity it is important to be reminded that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. The fight in you is stronger than what people assume it to be. Prove them wrong. Prove yourself right and be the best first gen student you can be. Keep doing you!

Until next time,

Jazlyn Sakaniwa