Ever since I was a kid, one of the things I can remember my parents always telling me, was that I was going to get a college degree.

"I don't know how we're going to do it," they'd say, "but it's going to happen."

Thinking about it now, college wasn't something that I had a choice in the matter on; I knew I was going to go—regardless of what I wanted to do in life or what I thought.

It was always a conscious thought though. The only thing I really had to do was keep my grades up and decide what I wanted to study.

A choice.

However, now that I'm about to graduate with my bachelors, everything is more or less surreal to me now.

All those years of my parents pestering me to go to college regardless of how much in debt I was going to go into, or how much I complained to them that I was just tired of school, is something that I'll forever be grateful for.

Now that I can see myself getting closer and closer to that diploma, I can see my parent's faces smiling up at me, telling me that I was able to accomplish the one thing they never could.

As a first-generation college student, I got to do a lot of the things my parents never could when they were younger.

I received a lot of opportunities they wished they could have, and as I type this, I'm beginning to really understand the place that I am in.

I understand now why parents pushed me all these years to do the things they never could; why I had to go above and beyond for a simple piece of signed paper.

I understand now.

As a first-generation college student, I not only have my future on my shoulders, but I also have the hopes and expectations of my family on there as well, to be an example.

So, what does Graduation mean to a first-generation college student?

It means that in the future, my parents won't have to struggle with the bills, or with putting food on the table.

It means that I'll be able to help them, just like they helped me, and I'll be able to thank them for all they've done for me.

It means that hopefully one day, I'll be able to provide for all the things I wasn't able to receive as a child.

It means that my future children won't have to go through the emotional stress that I went through of seeing my parents suffer and wonder how on earth we were going to put food on our table until the next paycheck.

Graduation for a first-generation college student means that better times are ahead with more opportunities for a brighter future.