Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. ~ Harriet Tubman
Starting college is always a transition we say we're ready for but really aren't. When you're a first generation college student, the transition is really hard. Without our parent's prior knowledge and experience it's like the blind leading the blind. For me, neither of my parents went to college and my older siblings didn't either. With that in mind, I knew that I was going to be a leading example for my younger siblings.
My first year of college was tough to say the least. I was living on campus at a community college close to home and I was scared. I was living with strangers who eventually became my friends. I was 15 minutes from home, so most weekends I went home to see my family. To be honest, I left campus on the weekends because I didn't want to experience college like everyone else. I was afraid I would fail my family by becoming a stoner or alcoholic like everyone else in my family has.
The whole reason I'm still in college today is because of TRiO SSS. TRiO SSS is a student support service for lower minority students. They have their own academic advisor and a math tutor. TRiO SSS is like a big happy family. They are your backbone in college and they always push you to do more than you think you're capable of.
TRiO SSS has introduced me to so many new friends that I now consider to be family. It has also opened me up to new opportunities and cultural events. The last two years I have attended the MI-CAPP Student Leadership Summit and it has been rewarding in so many ways. I was able to network this year with students from Upward Bound programs around the state (Upward Bound is a similar TRiO program for high school students preparing for college). I also learned more about TRiO and found some ideas to take back with me to my own TRiO family.
First generation students are leaders, whether they want to believe it or not. It takes a lot of courage and strength to do something your parents never did (no matter the reason why). First generation students lay the groundwork and foundation for their siblings, cousins and future children. The journey is a long one, but it is worth it in the end. Nothing is better than smiling at your parents at your college graduation ceremony and saying "I did it!"
Being a first generation student is scary. But having a support system is always helpful when you don't know where else to turn. TRiO SSS is a great program that has helped me stay motivated in college. First generation students shouldn't have to be afraid of college just because their parents never went. All students should go to college because they want to.