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  • Writer's pictureJasmin Mejia

First Generation: Not so Common Knowledge

As a first-generation college graduate, I saw the struggles one has to go through to achieve their goals. Not all knowledge is common, and this was made evident when starting my college career. While on the Cleveland trip with the NMGZ community, we spoke to an array of amazing individuals, but the one that stood out to me was Dr. Jean Grow.

Dr. Grow spoke about the difficulties of going through college with no true guide and found it difficult to accept their achievements. Her story resonated with my inner thoughts, and thus, I wanted to emphasize how to overcome “common knowledge.”

The first way to break the barrier is to provide Information and resources. Many first-gen students lack knowledge about various aspects of college life, such as financial aid options, academic support services, and career opportunities. What helped me the most was having a mentor teach me how to navigate college.

Secondly, many people tend to do everything alone. This can cause tremendous stress, which can be overcome by offering assistance. When you notice them tackling a task that seems overwhelming or time-consuming, offer your help without being intrusive. A simple offer can open the door to asking in the future.

Another habit is to keep occurrences to themselves. With constant change around them, there are times when it can be overwhelming and cause them to shut out their emotions. Therefore, being there for the individual and asking about their lives can help them feel heard. Actively listening to life events will help them secure their self-confidence in their achievements.

Finally, the most difficult issue to address was imposter syndrome. First-gen students often feel they do not belong or cannot succeed beyond secondary school. It is a sense of achieving greatness but belonging to someone else. To combat this, workshops or counseling should be offered to address these feelings and build their self-confidence.

As first-gen students, we have embarked on a transformative journey filled with challenges and triumphs, embracing the opportunity to pursue higher education despite limited family experience in academia. Being a first-generation student is not merely an identity but a journey of empowerment, resilience, and hope.

Our experiences, challenges, and successes serve as a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the transformative power of education. As we continue to break barriers and shatter stereotypes, we are proud of our accomplishments and eager to create a more equitable and inclusive world for future generations of learners. This process can be expedited if more individuals know how to gain common knowledge that is not so common.


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