I am a FirstGen student because neither of my parents attended a four-year university in the United States. A big FirstGen narrative is “having done it alone.” Yes, sometimes parents and family are the biggest support system with encouraging words and love, but not with personal experience(s) and advice in navigating high school, college apps, college life, etc. I was fortunate to have all of the support from my parents, and I am very proud of having made it into college, but yes, I did it on my own. Coming into Tufts I found myself (like many FirstGen students) doing everything ‘on my own’. That’s all I have ever known to do. No one told me that I wouldn’t have to anymore.
My first few months at Tufts I learned one of the most valuable lessons; being a FirstGen, low-income student does not mean that I am alone. It does not mean that I have to go through college doing everything on my own. The QuestBridge Tufts chapter, FirstGen Council, and the Office of Student Success and Advising hosted multiple FirstGen events throughout the year that helped connect me to this community of students. It was during my first year at Tufts that I found a very supportive and welcoming community of FirstGen students on campus. Although I had this community, I was still operating individually.
It wasn’t until I had hit one of the many challenges of being a low-income FirstGen student that I realized the power and support I have in this community. It was my FirstGen community of freshmen and upperclassmen that I learned about the best work-study jobs on campus, we shared books and online resources to save money, and we created a safe space to openly talk with people that just GET IT.
I found what community actually meant.
With my community of peers, along with the support from staff and faculty that really have our best interests in mind, I have been able to succeed and adjust to college. I found strength through them and in my FirstGen identity. There is so much love and support that the community gives, and although we are all figuring it out as we go, we’re doing it together.