Many first-gen college students have high aspirations, yet, little guidance and resources to help them reach their goals. Particularly, there is a need for post-college graduation support, such as career and graduate school preparation.
The lack of graduate school and career preparation information and opportunities for first-generation college students leaves many fist-gen students not adequately prepared for life after college, as a result, they are disadvantaged in society after many years of hard work in high school and college. From a societal perspective, there is an enormous amount of unmet potential that could be utilized to advance the nation in every department. From a social justice perspective, every individual deserves an equal opportunity to reach their full potential and their aspirations.
My name is Ana, a proud immigrant from Mexico, who was raised in the 805. Like many, I grew up bicultural/bilingual, de allá y de aquí. Growing up, I had many aspirations, yet there was little guidance and resources to help me reach my goals. As I advanced through the higher education system, things increasingly became more unfamiliar to me: the students, the university culture, and the expectations. As a result, my journey became progressively challenging and isolating.
After I began working with high school students and college students, I realized my experience in higher ed was more than a result of my personal situation; it was a recurring pattern among first-gen students. In addition, the lack of first-gen minoritized students in graduate school and in leadership positions in society was a strong motivator for me to examine issues concerning first-gen students to better understand what could be done to change this.
My PhD research examined the experiences of first-gen, Latinx students' college and career aspirations development, using a longitudinal multiple-case study design. I focused on how institutional structures influence students’ navigational experience and identity development. Statistically, graduate degrees are not given to someone like me. I am here to prove that it is for people like me and YOU.
Drawing from my lived experiences, practice, research, I am passionate about empowering other first-gen students (high school, two-year, and four-year college students) to show up authentically, to reach their academic goals, and to feel that they are not alone in the process. My goal is to increase the number of minoritized first-gen students in graduate school by providing a support system, information, and resources students may not receive elsewhere. Representation matters. Let's show up.