I think those few weeks before going back to college, where flights are being bought, plans for the following semester are being made, and goodbyes become more concrete, feel like waiting on a red light. Change is imminent. You know it will arrive soon and you’re waiting on your toes for that light to turn green.

Leaving home is never simple. Because you never truly leave it. The experiences, ideas, and memories from home are never entirely gone. This fall as I enter my sophomore year, I want to hold onto them. However, I don’t want to hold them in a desperate grasp, yearning for sunsets that have gone by. I don’t want to hold them in a desperate grasp and place them on a pedestal while disregarding the present. I don’t want to hold them in a desperate grasp, because I basked in comfort within them.  I want to hold them because they remind me of everything that my family and friends have given me.

College can become difficult, and overwhelming, especially as first-gen student. However, whenever I’m not sure how I will get through the week, or even the next couple of weeks, I think of home. I’m very fortunate to have a support system that has actively advocated and supported me. They have given me countless opportunities which I will not squander. To all of my fellow first-gen students, don’t forget that you’re never truly alone. Friends, family, and the first-gen community will be there to support you.

Right now, I’m at that red light. Holding thoughts of the people that have supported me and anticipating the green light. Wherever my next year at Emory will take me, I know I won’t be alone.