Autumn Hastings and Her Experience as a First Gen College Student

In my short time at Agnes Scott I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with Autumn Hastings. I think most who know Autumn would say she is nice, but brutally honest. I love Autumn for her giggles, her sharp wit, and her wisdom (even if it’s its not the advise I wanted to hear). It this interview, Autumn came down to my room and we talked about her experience as a first generation college student.

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Hometown: Between Shiprock and Farmington is an area called Upper Fruitland, that’s where I’ve lived most of my life. It on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico.


Her Campus: What’s it like being a first generation college student?

Autumn Hastings: In some ways I imagine it won’t feel as different if I wasn’t a first gen, but at the same time no one can really give me advice on what to do. No one I know has ever really been to this area and everyone was always so excited because I’m the oldest of all my cousins and my siblings. So at the same time, I’m trying to pave a way for my family back home, to show them it’s okay to leave. It was funny because everyone was really scared at first, but they became supportive after a while. They[‘re} doing their best to say “hey, I love, I miss you” that type of thing.     

HC: What are your biggest struggles as a first gen student?

AH: I guess it would be either being so far from home or trying to adjust to the little things in everyday life. Like there are some things that I’m not familiar with; like I haven’t  [ever] really heard anyone outside a Youtube video say ‘mood’ in everyday conversation. Yeah at the same time, I’m always surprised at how much people seem to love their dogs here, that’s one thing.     

HC: Do you feel like Agnes Scott is supporting you as a first gen student?  

AH: Yeah I mean, they were pretty good about the orientation and such. And at the same time I feel like they give me some tools to go out into the world by myself. The biggest they[‘ve] done for me is they’ve allowed other first gen students to start a club called PathMakers. And I feel like that's more supportive than Agnes Scott as a whole, because I don’t have to go out of my way to ask for help with them. You just give them a little of what you need and then they’re pulling out all their stops and information they have and are teaching you how to navigate the system. Because unless you really specifically ask no one else is going to help you. It’s different because they volunteer [the information] they think you will need because they’ve been in your shoes.   

HC: What do you miss the most about home?

AH: I guess it would be seeing my family a little more often. Don’t get me wrong, I miss them, but I do like the peace and quiet. And like making my own schedule and my own choices. Even then I always get lists from my mom of what to do today, and I’m like I already brushed my teeth today. I guess it would be seeing them everyday. Every now and again I remember, ‘hey, there's something I do with that specific board game at my house’, but then I’m like “Oh wait it’s at home, oh well.” It’s just little things like that.      

HC: What was your family’s reaction you going to school so far away?

AH: I’ve wanted to come here for about  two years now, so I think they’ve had some time to adjust to the idea. But the most I got out of everyone was like shock. It seems pretty random for someone who lives so far a way to hear about this one school, two days drive away, and then want to go there so bad. I guess they didn’t really think it would  happen. They knew it was my first choice and I waited until two weeks before I left to tell everyone that wasn’t in my immediate family. So, two weeks before I left my grandparents, my aunts, [and] my cousins were told because we weren’t really sure if we were going to make the trip at all.

HC: How did you find out about Agnes Scott and what drew you to Agnes Scott?

AH: I actually had a former Scottie as my school’s College Success Advisor. So apparently, that’s something we needed being on the reservation. We have really low graduation rates, and New Mexico itself is near the bottom of the academic totem pole. She was a former Scottie and I got into her advisement class my first year of high school. So I got to know her pretty well and she was always one of the nicest, most positive people I’ve ever meet. And one year, my school started doing this weird little moviational thing, where they would get people from their faculty to get on stage and tell their life stories with slide shows and everything. One year my teacher, did that little presentation and she shared a lot of things. I’d heard her talk about her school before, but I’d never paid attention. And she had pictures of all her friends from there and she talked about how diverse and accepting the school was and that it was small. That was [really my first]  impression of Agnes was through this teacher and through how much she loved this school. I knew by then I wanted to be an anthropologist and [a] diverse area was one of the best things I could hope for especially, because my choices are pretty limited back where I’m from. It seemed like a little bit of a too good to be true school and I wanted to see if I could get to.

HC: What do you love the most about Agnes Scott and or Decatur?

AH: It would most likely be the small town feel of it in a large area or the people.  I don’t make a big deal about the culture shock that I experienced, so the effects are pretty minimal. It‘s just more about taking people as they are and learning about them, which is what brought me to this area in the first place. And I sort [of] like the old-timey accepting feel the area has as a whole. I’ve never really lived in a city before, I’ve been to them, but there’s something different about calling this place my home for the time being, even though I don’t know anything about it.      

HC: What’s a fun fact about you that most people wouldn't’ know?  

AH: I don’t know, that’s hard to think of because after being around for a month a lot of people probably know a few things about me, but lets see. Starting in kindergarten, I had an obsession with Bruce Lee, Jet Lee, and Jackie Chan, as well as Johnny Depp in his early days, and I always wanted to be a martial artist when I got older. So my mom enrolled me in traditional style Taekwondo lessons when I was in kindergarten, and I did that up until middle school and then I stopped for a little while and then went on for a little bit in high school.

HC: I can attest from experience, she’s good.

AH: One of the reasons I was drawn to the Atlanta area was because my master’s grand master actually teaches here. So if I ever want to do something I can go learn from the greatest at its roots. I just need to scrounge up some money for the fee.

HC: Well thank you, Autumn, it was a pleasure.