Hi everyone! I’ll be doing a three-part series on what it’s like to be a first-generation Hispanic college student. I’m writing this in hopes that other young women like me will read this and see that they’re not alone.Both my parents came to the U.S. in their early 20’s in search of a better life. They met in the U.S., got married, and had my sister and me. Growing up, I never knew how fortunate I was. At age 10, my father was waking up at dawn and accompanying my grandfather to go work in the fields. When they came back, they’d have food to put on the table and money to buy necessities. At 17, his father passed away, and the pressure was put on him to provide for his family. At age 10, I was waking up to go to school and wondering what was for lunch that day, at 17, I was finishing my final year in high school.
Growing up, I moved around a lot, and every time I moved, it was always difficult. I would have to learn a new address once again, get familiar with the neighborhood, and try to fit in at school. My education was the one thing that stayed constant even now that I am 100 miles away from family. Although I resented school because I felt that I wasn’t as smart as the other children. The only time I felt joy or excitement was when we started new subjects. The idea of learning something new made my heart pound with excitement.
It wasn’t until I was in 6th grade, where I learned that my parents did not have an education higher than a 6th grader. 6th grade was also the year I learned I’m a first-gen. I am the first in my family to finish Elementary school, first to get through middle school, the first to receive a diploma, the first to earn a degree, and in the 2 years’ time the first to graduate with a master’s at a distinguished University.
I wasn’t moving to a new country in my 20’s, instead, I was finishing up community college. I didn’t struggle to provide for my family but was trying to succeed in school. Education is the one thing my parents did not get and pushed me to pursue even though I wasn’t the greatest, but the joy of learning was what kept me going. I am first in my family to accomplish many things, but the pressure to succeed is always there. I have lost count how many times I’ve cried thinking I’ll fail an upcoming test or fail in getting into a good university or fail into getting in the teaching program. But every day, I’m grateful to have come this far. I want to move forward, knowing that when I look back, I can see my parents being proud of me. I want to go on knowing I’ve lived up to their expectations, and coming to the U.S. for a better future was not in vain.