When reflecting and processing the motivation I have had for pursuing higher education prior to high school all the way to my final year of college, I have realized that only looking at the fact that I am a first-generation college student is not enough to fully understand why I have been this motivated. I have recognized that being a first-generation college student and being a first-generation American (second-generation immigrant) is a better way to fully understand why I have chosen higher education and how I have managed to stay this motivated. These two identities undoubtedly intertwine.
After attending a first-generation inspirational and motivational conference called “AL1GN” in 2018, I was introduced to the idea of what it means to have a “narrative” and how important it is to understand it. The first thing that came to my mind as I wrapped my head around this idea of having a narrative, was the fact that my parents and my upbringing have been a big part of my story. My parents came to this country in hopes of providing a better future for their children. Ever since I was in Elementary school, I was constantly told stories of what it was like for my parents in El Salvador and the lack of opportunities available for a bright future for them and many others. I was told of the extreme levels of poverty that they endured and the reasoning behind why they wanted more for me. I have been told the stories of the struggle that it took for them to get to the United States. From the struggles of having to abandon all they knew, such as family and culture, to the struggles of learning a new language, feeling small in a new, but big world, figuring out financials, and getting their firstborn to where I am today.
Ever since I have been told these stories, I knew that I needed to go to college. I felt that I needed to make sure they knew that their efforts, sacrifices, and struggles were all going to be worth it in the end. I want to make sure they know that it is not going to be a waste because we will succeed and push forward together. I believe that without their narratives, I would have not had the intense amount of motivation that I have had throughout the many years before and during college. Their narrative is a part of my narrative, and my legacy of being a first-generation college student is a part of their legacy. I feel as though being a first-generation college student is one layer explaining my motivation for higher education and that being a first-generation American is another layer that must be uncovered and fully understood.
While in college, I have seen growth within myself because I have learned to fully understand and embrace these two identities. As a first-gen student, I have managed to find the motivation to push for more. I have made it to my final year of college and will be pursuing an advanced degree. I have been a part of the amazing first-gen work that has been taking place within Virginia Commonwealth via mentorship. I have managed to find my passion for what I want to do career-wise thanks to these two first-gen identities. In other words, these two identities have played a major role in the narrative that I have written over the past three years and will continue to play a role in the narrative that I will continue to write as I continue to grow.