Oh God it feels nice to write something that is not an Organic Chemistry paper. I have been staring and working on that thing for far more time than I care to admit to.
During the beginning of the month I had the awesome privilege of serving on a number of panels for incoming students and their parents. It was the student panel that I truly enjoyed because it felt like I struck a resonant chord with some students.
I gave them a couple of pieces of advice, one of which was a warning to not compare themselves to other people. It is one of the more difficult things that I have had to deal with myself and I’m still not quite there in terms of overcoming that. As a first generation student I have had little room in my life for error. I needed to have all of my ducklings in a row for Plan A, Plan B and sometimes even Plan C. As first gens we are battling a huge, ugly obstacle that is called Inexperience. In college you will meet a lot of peers that come from families where going to college is just as expected and natural the way elementary school is. Don’t compare your experiences to theirs because you are very much comparing apples to oranges. You are different, your stories are different, your journey is different.
Also, be PROUD of where you come from. Own it. My favorite moment during the student panel was when I said that I was a Latina, first gen student from Compton. There was a ripple of approval throughout the room, to which I promptly blushed because that’s just what I do. At the end of the panel about 30 or so prospective students came up to me and thanked me for mentioning the first generation bit. They were starting to feel a bit lonely within their incoming class cohort because they felt like they could not relate to any one or find a role model that they could relate to. My simple shout out made them feel like they could belong to this college. So be vocal about your journey, about your roots, because by doing so you are helping other people feel like they have a fighting chance at surviving this new scary and awesome (!) experience.