Being a first-generation student was hard enough. I came from an area in California where everyone’s parents graduated from very prestigious universities and had ties for their kids to go to those universities, which was very difficult for my family. I always tend to hide that my parents never fully graduated with a degree. No one usually asked; it was always assumed they did.
I was the first one in my family to start a 4-year university, especially one so far away from home. I knew nothing about living on my own, taking college courses, going to class, taking notes, or studying. I was starting out on my own not knowing anyone in the state of Iowa. Luckily I came in accepted into the TRIO Student Support Services and Iowa Edge Program. Those two programs changed my life; I found my passions, my friends, and resources I would not have known about if I weren’t apart of these programs.
Iowa Edge is a program for incoming freshman students who are minorities, first-gen, or who come from low-income families to come a week before school starts and participate in a four-day program where we teach them about all the resources the University has to offer. Through this program, I was able to learn about cultural and resource centers – which by the way have free printing, but they also have study spaces, and some even have Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, Wii, and tons more! The cultural center I always go to is the Latino Native American Cultural Center, where I work as a Center Programming Assistant with the best people I have met at this campus.
This is also where some student organizations meet, like the Association of Latinos Moving Ahead, Native American Student Association, etc. Iowa Edge also taught me about resources that everyone should know about. Whether it is an incoming freshman or a soon-to-be graduating seniors, these resources will help you big time – for instance, the speaking and writing centers located in the English Philosophy Building, the math lab located in McLean Hall, the Student Disabilities Center located in the basement of Burge Residence Hall, and also the Center for Diversity and Enrichment located now on the second floor of the Old Capital Mall.
TRIO Student Support Services is a program that serves around 350 students year-round who demonstrate academic help who are also first-generation, low-income, or have a verified disability. In this program, I am allowed to take a class during each semester where I was introduced to note-taking skills, speaking skills, résumé skills, and research skills. I also learned how to use the library properly with skills we can use to get help from the faculty or staff there. Taking this class the past two semesters, I have learned about the Pomerantz Career Center. At the Career Center, you have the opportunity to take mock interviews, talk to their staff about your resume, and find careers that are suitable for you within your declared major.
As a first-gen student, there are many ups and downs throughout the process of college, whether it was picking a university or figuring out my class schedule. There will always be times where I wonder if this is the right decision for me, but I know with the opportunities I was granted during my time at this university I am able to better my future and create more opportunities for my family.