Years of hard work are all captured on a piece of paper, a diploma. It is a trophy, a symbol of completion but at the same time, it is so much more than that. For many, like me, graduation isn’t something that our families are used to or have seen before.
Being the first in your family to graduate is a new beginning and something that everyone looks forward to. Being a first-generation college student is also a lot of pressure and a lot of hard work. As a first-generation student, there are many systems to navigate, and sometimes you’re left wondering, as I did, if these systems were made to include you. These struggles are something that I know very well.
I am a first-generation college student, an immigrant, but above all, I am resilient. Graduation wasn’t just for me or about me, it was for my family who gave up so much to allow me the opportunity to receive an education. It was about those who uplifted me and believed in me even when I questioned if I belonged in higher ed spaces. As I grew up, I would see movies and shows where all the kids going to college didn’t quite look like me. I know this feeling doesn’t just apply to me. First-generation college students view this moment in their life as a new milestone for their whole family.
This year many first-generation college students, and families were crushed to see the day they’ve worked day and night for, be altered due to numerous factors impacting the world. We all had many plans and many things we were looking forward to. We were all ready to arrive at our commencement ceremonies with our families and run to them to hand them our diplomas.
To the class of 2020, to the first-generation students, know that this accomplishment will forever be valid and although we have had to adjust our planning and celebration, no one can take this moment away from you. This moment is special because you made it to the finish line. Your hard days of studying were all worth it. Thank you for defeating the odds and for proving once again how resilient you are.
To the incoming class, know that your hard work will pay off! Si Se Puede.