The student news site of Houston Community College

The Egalitarian

The student news site of Houston Community College

The Egalitarian

The student news site of Houston Community College

The Egalitarian

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Uncategorized
My Experience As A First Generation Student
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Paulina Garcia, Staff Writter • July 3, 2024

    My Experience As A First Generation Student

    Most+graduates+left+commencement+after+walking+across+stage.+This+image+was+taken+while+the+last+five+rows+were+walking+at+graduation+Saturday%2C+May+14.+
    Alyssa Foley
    Most graduates left commencement after walking across stage. This image was taken while the last five rows were walking at graduation Saturday, May 14.

     Pressure, that’s all I ever felt my entire life as a first-generation student…pressure. No one ever talks to you about how suffocating it all becomes. The importance of carrying your family’s lineage to higher status of life. I mean this was the reason why your great-grandparents & family moved to America in the first place. To have a better life for their children, to have a better future for their generations. So yes to say I feel pressure is an understatement. 

        Being a first-generation student means you have to learn everything on your own. Growing up,  college was an abstract idea to me. Well, truthfully I didn’t even know what it was until I went to KIPP. A public charter school whose sole mission is to get underprivileged students into college. There I learned the importance of education and higher education. I had no idea about how useful it can be to your future. This gave me the motivation to strive to care more about school. Most of my family members never attended college or finished high school. Trying to survive was the most important thing to the older generations. Holding down a job, wondering what the next meal will be, or who would take care of the bills. My grandmother said that school was a privilege. Hearing all these stories and experiences from my family members pushed me to want more for myself. It sounds messed up but I didn’t like the life that they lived. They told me they didn’t want that life for me either. Working a 9 to 5 blue-collar job and coming home to screaming children. That is not for me. 

       When I started to attend classes at Blinn Junior College I was terrified. Just an hour away from home, the first time I was living on my own. I was horrified at failing to balance it all. Or having to quit because it is just too much. I worried about how upset my parents would be if I left.  The worst part about this whole experience was that my parents didn’t know how to help me. This was a common issue for me. Having to figure everything out on my own. Trying to figure out FAFSA, applying to classes, talking to counselors, clubs, meetings, finding the perfect major it’s all sometimes too much. However, within this learning process, I realized how privileged I am. How I can even worry about things like picking the right major. It’s a humbling experience to realize this. To think I can do whatever I want and not just because I need to survive. 

       Being a first-generation student means hope. I’m breaking generational gaps and inspiring others. College isn’t for everyone I know. For me it’s more personal, it’s my goals, my dreams for my family. I get asked why I care so much about what my family thinks of my education. They have given me opportunities and options. Something they can never afford to imagine. Might as well try right? I’m finally graduating from Houston Community College and will be attending the University of Houston in the fall. Pressure will always be present, it’s what you do with it that matters. 



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    About the Contributor
    Alyssa Foley
    Alyssa Foley, Editor
    Alyssa served as The Egalitarian editor-in-chief from October 2014 - May 2016, and she served as the news editor from January 2017 - May 2017. She transferred to the University of Houston in fall 2017. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn. Alyssa was born and raised in Houston. She was homeschooled K-12 and is a communications major. She is a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member and Texas Region Hall of Honor inductee with nothing but love for her Omega Sigma Chapter family. Alyssa is mesmerized by the magic of theatre and has acted in the college's production of Shakespeare's 'Comedy of Errors' (fall 2015) as the Abbess and Luce and in an Acting III class showcase (spring 2016), both at the Stafford campus. She published a research essay in the college's history journal 'Fronteras Unidas' spring 2017 edition. Alyssa was a panelist at U.N. Global Issues Day 2017 at the West Loop campus and helped plan and host U.N. World Water Day 2015 at the Stafford campus.    

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