Q: In your opinion, what does being a first generation student mean?
A: People who are deciding to go to college when their parents never did. It’s a big step because they don’t know what they’re getting into because no one can tell them because their family doesn’t know much about it. It’s a whole new experience for the whole family and it gives a lot of opportunities to grow and achieve success in the future.
Q: What have you done to obtain above a 4.0 GPA?
A: I have taken challenging classes to prepare me to take on more challenging classes and I just keep up with my work. It just motivates me because I want to go to college and my parents wanted to go too. They want me to experience college because they never could
Q: How was your parent’s lives before coming to the U.S?
A: So, my dad actually dropped out of high school when he was younger, so he could work in construction and earn money at a young age. He wasn’t very good at school, so he figured it was the better option because his family didn’t encourage him to do anything. They didn’t really feed him either, so he was on his own. I’m glad he chose to work hard, so he could have a future for his family. My mom actually grew up in the Philippines, so she actually got a college education there for like 2 years in nursing or something like that, but it didn’t transfer to the U.S. College there is completely different from here. In the Philippines, there’s a lot of poverty, so she didn’t want us to end up like how it is there.
Q: What are the biggest struggles that you’ve had as a first-generation student?
A: Well, I don’t know what the next steps are. I’m not sure what to do next like right now I’m trying to figure out if I need a roommate now and I’m applying to housing. I didn’t know you had to do all of this until now because I’m going to James Madison University (JMU) and I got this one book that tells us how to do everything. Because my brother’s in college right now, he’s helping me transfer.
Q: What are you going to major in?
A: I am trying to major in business, but I’m not sure what aspect of business that I’m trying to pursue, but it’s just an interesting topic to me and my mom owns a rice mill in the Philippines right now and I don’t know how she’s running it from here, but business is such an interesting topic to me. JMU has a great business program.
Q: What extracurricular activities have you done in high school?
A: I’m in Key Club and Habitat for Humanity, which have helped me gain volunteer hours. Colleges love seeing extracurricular stuff on your resume. Yearbook takes a lot of my time because you make yearbook layouts, edit and take photos of other places. I used to do track & field. I’ve done marching band and colorguard for four years, which takes up the end of summer and all of fall.
Q: Do you also work above all of that?
A: It balances out in the end because you deal with a lot of the band in the fall and a lot of habitat volunteering in the spring. So, it evens out during the year. Overall, it is kind of a lot. I work at Subway and I’ve been working there for almost two years.
Q: How have you managed with all of that?
A: It’s a lot of keeping up with what you’re doing, you can’t overbook yourself because then you’re making false promises to other people. So, it’s keeping your calendar up to date and knowing your schedule.
Q: What is the biggest thing that you’ve got out of high school to prepare you for the future?
A: Well, one thing that I’ve learned is that you need a group of friends who are there to support you because it’s hard doing things alone. It’s good to have positive people who are there for you no matter what to help you get through anything.
Q: Did you think you were gonna go to college?
A: Well, I’ve always kind of thought I would because my parents always said “you have to go college”, but it didn’t really hit until high school that it was gonna happen. Especially, now I’m going to college and I’m in Valley Scholars. So, I’ve kind of known about it since 7th or 8th grade, which was where I knew I was going to college for sure because the program would be providing such a big chunk of how much it would cost.
Q: What has been the biggest problem with transitioning into college life?
A: I’m gonna be the first in my family to live in a dorm. So, that’s a whole new experience for everybody because I have to choose what I’m bringing. I don’t know how it works like finding a roommate and everything, so that’s gonna be the biggest struggle which is I guess moving out of the house and saying goodbyes even though I’m really close to JMU, so I could always visit, but it’s different living in a place other than home.
Q: What is a piece of advice that you would give to someone who is first-generation wanting to go to college?
A: I think you should figure out what you wanna do with the rest of your life because college isn’t for everybody, but it definitely helps you with a future career. So, if you know what you wanna pursue or if you don’t, then it’s a good way to find out what you wanna do. College would be great to help you both get credibility and experience in the career that you want in the future. So, you should go for it.