The pressures of a first generation student

Imagine blindly walking into the next four years without direction.

College is a milestone. We are continuously told education is our dominant weapon. Especially when the man in charge believes Mexico is not sending the U.S. their best.

Most people, myself included feel grateful to have the opportunity to achieve what our parents were not able to. But, hidden within us is a pressure linked with the descriptor, “first-generation student.”

The importance behind our education began from the moment our parents crossed the border as immigrants; both a blessing and a curse as we become aware of the difficulties linked to our nationality.

First-generation Chico State student Moises Mendoza, majoring in Concrete Management, explained the hardship of this disadvantage.

“Proving to the educational system that my intellectual capabilities equals a white student’s is annoying, but that is not the biggest challenge,” Mendoza said. “It is the responsibility.”

For the majority of our lives we’ve been in school, as required by the State of California. College? College is an option, a responsibility we choose to take on.

Being a first generation student means we are taking a risks. We are stepping out of our comfort zone to achieve what no one else in our family has.

More so, there is no “right” support given to students of our kind.

There is a weight placed on our shoulders to set the example for the younger generation, to be a prodigy for our nationality.

Schools are often poorly-equipped to give individualized attention. Students sometimes feel vulnerable in the world of higher education.

Those intended to comfort us , like guidance counselors, lack patience for answers to information we can’t find through relatives or others. Sometimes students don’t even know what questions to ask, nor have the courage to speak up. We learn as a result of trial and error.

Still, surprisingly enough, our biggest pressure comes from home.

Our parents, expect us to do our best. There is a weight placed on our shoulders to set the example for the younger generation, to be a prodigy for our nationality. It has been instilled in us that only a few are granted this privilege, and college should be taken advantage of for the a better paying career.

All this is done with the notion of avoiding the hardships they went through, to be given the opportunities they did not have for a better life.

Unfortunately, this demand can result in negativity. Today, students are not enrolling for the benefit of themselves. Instead, they feel obligated to go to college to make their parents proud or because they feel forced to.

The high expectations become a stressor, and the urge to give up increases, but even then giving up is not an option.

If you are a first generation student, I applaud you for taking the reins and breaking new ground. The number one means best, the most important of anything else of its kind. It takes great sacrifice to achieve what many do not have the stigma for.

This makes being a first generation student an honor. We were chosen to be number one not by our own choice, but by destiny.

Janette Estrada can be reached at [email protected] or @Jane_11e on Twitter.