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CafeteroJr

First-Generation Grad Students Thread

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Posted (edited)

Hey GC,

I'm a first-gen college grad entering my first year of grad school at Villanova this August, pursuing my MA in Political Science! I would love to see if there are other first-gen students on here so that we can all get to know each other a little ūüôāI'll start:

So my parents emigrated from Colombia to the USA in the late 80s to flee the cartel violence, and roughly eight years later, I was born in Miami! I went to pretty rough-around-the-edges public schools in my neighborhood for elementary and middle school, where I hung around with MS13 kids and other gang kids. Since my mom was afraid of me being a part of "those kind of people", or as she would put it in Spanish "con esos pelados", she put me in a private Catholic high school on a full scholarship. I graduated top 10% of my class, went to the Bay Area for college, currently doing a year of service as a volunteer, and this August will be moving to Philadelphia to pursue my MA in Villanova.

What's your story? How did you get to where you are now?

Edited by CafeteroJr
Adding questions at the end

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Hey, I have not yet been accepted to grad school, but I will also be a first generation! My parents are immigrants from Macedonia, and moved to Canada. I took Social Work and Disability Studies at the University of Windsor. As a student with a disability, it was great to learn more advocacy skills for my group, and also how to be an ally for other marginalized groups. I did a lot of volunteer work during my undergrad (over twelve volunteer placements) and was able to juggle four part time jobs on top of my full time placement. My placement was at The Canadian Mental Health Association, which I loved with my whole heart.

I have applied to Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, and hope I can showcase my potential at this amazing establishment.

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I love meeting other first generation students, it makes me feel less alone considering neither of my parents know anything about college or grad school. I come from a very small town in semi-rural Indiana and getting my education gave me a healthy outlet to overcome many family struggles. I completed undergrad in Spring 2018 with a Bachelor's in Psychology and a second Bachelor's in English with a minor in Spanish, both being honors degrees. I'll be attending Sam Houston State University's MA of Clinical Psychology program in the Fall of 2019 and will reapply to PhDs after that!

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Posted (edited)

I am also going to be the very first person in my family to ever attend graduate school, which is such an honor to hold and could not be any more proud. Both me and my older brother attended the University at Buffalo for our bachelors, though while I'm about to graduate in May, he already graduated back in May 2016 with a BS in pharmacology and toxicology and spent the last three years working as a research technician. He is also returning back to UB for his second bachelors degree in nursing right after I graduate, which will be an accelerated program that takes him one year to complete. I'm going straight into my masters right after undergrad. I'm completing my BA in psychology with a minor in counseling and will be pursuing my masters in school counseling.

Both my parents never attended community college for an associate or a four year university for a bachelors. My mom did, however, attend Lehman College for a 1 year program about 2-3 years ago to receive her certification in medical assisting after co-owning a jewelry store with my dad for 15 years before closing their business. In addition, both my parents were not born in the U.S., come from two different countries (my mom is from Ecuador and my dad is from Vietnam), and arrived to NYC in the late 70s-early 80s. It's definitely not easy handling the fact that I'm the first in my family to pursue an advanced degree given that they don't really know how it's like and can't help me on certain issues like funding or the general experience of going to grad school, so I can only rely on help from mentors I've had, other graduate students, my best friend who's about to graduate from grad school this year, professors I know, etc. 

Edited by Lauren210

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I'm also a first-generation college student. My mom is a bookkeeper and my dad is a bike mechanic, but both were born in the United States. I'm so proud that I got into graduate school, and they're super proud and supportive of me too. They definitely don't really understand what grad school is, or what I do, but then again... neither do I! My hope is that once I finish graduate school, or maybe even in graduate school, since I am attending a fully funded program, I can send them money so they can go to college. My dad always wanted to go to school to become a teacher, but there was never the money. My mom would love to take classes, and I just want them to be able to have those opportunities since they gave so much to me!

I'm originally from Alaska, and I lived there until I moved away for college. It's definitely a very different environment than the East Coast, and I find myself missing nature a lot. Despite that, I actually love cities and how busy everything always seems to be. I'm quite excited to start grad school, and very happy to see that there's a thread for others not coming from college-educated families. 

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5 minutes ago, virusologii said:

I'm also a first-generation college student. My mom is a bookkeeper and my dad is a bike mechanic, but both were born in the United States. I'm so proud that I got into graduate school, and they're super proud and supportive of me too. They definitely don't really understand what grad school is, or what I do, but then again... neither do I! My hope is that once I finish graduate school, or maybe even in graduate school, since I am attending a fully funded program, I can send them money so they can go to college. My dad always wanted to go to school to become a teacher, but there was never the money. My mom would love to take classes, and I just want them to be able to have those opportunities since they gave so much to me!ÔĽŅ

That's amazing! Best wishes to you and your family! :) It's awesome seeing so much potential in all of you!

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Absolutely love this thread.

I immigrated with my parents to the U.S. from a Latin American country when I was very young. Higher education has been interesting to navigate as neither of my parents have a degree, and they don't understand the U.S. education system in the slightest. I don't blame them. I don't understand a good 80% of the time. My parents, however, have been very supportive, and my mom is elated I'm going to be a doctoral student. I've been able to get this far because of their endless love and support as well as the support of other people that believe in me.

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It is nice to read the stories here!

I don't come from an educated family, whatsoever. I barely graduated high school. I often think about how lucky I am to have ended up where I am now. If high school me knew exactly what kind of day-to-day work I was involved in right at this moment, he wouldn't have believed it for a second.

I'm grateful for the external experiences I've had growing up that actually prevented me from excelling in school and going to college right away, because it all has allowed me to not take it for granted when I finally did attend. Navigating it on my own has been quite the experience.

I wouldn't have gone to college (and soon a PhD program) if I didn't learn how to seek out government financial assistance on my own, attend a community college, and work a few years in food service/retail (no disrespect to the hard workers out there, but working at a grocery store is what really motivated me to give higher education a chance. Always be nice to your cashiers and clerks!).

My parents don't understand college very well and have no understanding of graduate school. They are supportive and happy for me, but I am proud to say I got here on my own.

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Guest najo

Surprisingly similar to your story, @CafeteroJr! Grew up around the same sort of stuff. Not MS13, but the same principle. Gangs, gun violence, drug dealing, I've never been a stranger to any of that. Friends I grew up with are gone or in prison, the whole 9. My parents had the same worries, but I stayed in my close by public schools throughout. I moved away from those early friendships around 16, anyway, because the guys I was close with were getting too involved (gun trafficking and dealing). I got by in high school, I was a pretty "bare minimum" person, and fixed that in the year between graduation and starting my undergrad. Got my BA in my hometown, and I'm staying here (at another school) for my Masters to mitigate costs  

My parents could never help me navigate this stuff, since neither went to uni here, just college. Going into the same with grad studies, but they're very supportive of me continuing my education, even though they don't understand a lick of what I'm doing. Grateful for them. 

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I would heart react all of your posts, but alas, GC decided that my love is a finite supply (which is a lie, because it's amazing people like you all that keep me grounded that anything is possible for me and deserve all the love and recognition you get!) So keep doing good shit y'all! ‚̧ԳŹ¬†

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My parents are both immigrants (from Cuba and Colombia) neither went to college, and have little understanding of what graduate school is. One example I always think of when I compare my parents educational upbringing versus my own, is that when my mom came to America at age 10, she was always pulled out of school to accompany her parents to doctors appointments to try and translate, although she was just learning English herself. There's always a sense of guilt for how easy I had it in comparison.

My parents deserve to see "PhD" after our last name. Any other females against changing their last name if they get married for this reason?

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So happy to see this thread! 

I am a first-generation high school graduate and college student, and have been offered acceptance into two PhD programs. Unfortunately, I grew up in a home that did not support my educational pursuits, and I might end up being the only one of my siblings to be able to claim any of that. I actually had to move out at 13 because the environment was so toxic. Despite that, I graduated second highest ranking student in my high school class and summa cum laude from my undergraduate institution. 

The region I grew up in is extremely rural and not nearly as supportive of higher education as it should be. Many people start families too young  or start working in a manual labor sector (i.e. why my family never finished high school) instead of pursuing other opportunities. I'm hoping to return to rural regions after completing my degree to help change the perception of education and assist with bringing better services (educational, mental health, etc.) to the area. 

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On 4/1/2019 at 8:56 AM, nimsaj95 said:

My parents are both immigrants (from Cuba and Colombia) neither went to college, and have little understanding of what graduate school is. One example I always think of when I compare my parents educational upbringing versus my own, is that when my mom came to America at age 10, she was always pulled out of school to accompany her parents to doctors appointments to try and translate, although she was just learning English herself. There's always a sense of guilt for how easy I had it in comparison.

My parents deserve to see "PhD" after our last name. Any other females against changing their last name if they get married for this reason?

I got married and I haven't changed mine, for multiple reasons, but this is 100% one of them! My parents both graduated from high school but that's it. I'm a first gen - some cousins after me ended up going to college after I started, but no one has gone this far. It can be hard sometimes, and a bit alienating. Weird to have friends whose grandparents have PhDs while mine were farmers who couldn't read. I'm doing this for them! 

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First generation (and currently only) graduate student in my family as well as being the first of my family to get into college. Older family members as well as the previous generations simply had no interest about pursuing education past high school level, at least that I was aware of. Recently accepted a PhD position and am eagerly awaiting the fall to begin the arduous journey. 

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I'm a Chinese international student. My parents have bachelor's but they didn't consider pursuing a graduate degree. After completing my Bachelor's in University of Wisconsin, I decided to move further to a graduate program. Fortunately I have been accepted by Karalinska Institute, a very decent research institution in Europe. Thanks to all the inspirations I received from nice antecedents at UW. Really wish to come back to midwest after finishing graduate school.

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