Be Unafraid in the Face of Ambition!
Nya Serano - Painting + Drawing Major and Student Success Peer Mentor
I didn’t really have a plan for how I was going to go to college. I didn’t have the money or proper resources. Meeting with my college advisor in high school was extremely discouraging. When I informed her of the art schools I was interested in, she told me they were all out of reach due to my financial status and suggested I attend community college and choose a different career path; not offering any information on grants or scholarships. When it came to the application process and meeting requirements like taking the ACT, I didn’t have access to a tutor. Everything was so expensive. I borrowed an old P-ACT study book from a family friend and applied for a fee waiver.
I spent my entire Junior year of high school in envy of those who had a set plan for college. I didn’t feel ambitious about attending college like my peers. I felt insecure about my financial status and ignorance of the application process. I reached out to people like my aunt who studied English literature for help with my college essays, and friends who attended art school for assistance on how to put a portfolio together.
My older brother and sister were the first in my family to attend and graduate from college. I relied solely on them for support and guidance. They helped me apply for FAFSA and assured me that I was not alone. I started to learn to confidently do things on my own and applied to every school I was interested in, by myself. I didn’t know if I would get any scholarships or be accepted into any of the schools and just hoped for the best. I ended up getting into every school I applied to and was awarded scholarships to each one! CCA was the first to accept me.
Advice for First-Gen College Students
To students who feel discouraged about their journey, my advice is to try your best to stay positive and trust that good things will come your way. I have so much respect for every first-gen person who has the courage to even apply to college. Another piece of advice is to establish a support system of people who believe in you. Completing tasks on your own without having a model is extremely challenging, and you should never feel alone in the process. I still struggle today with having to do things by myself and the fear that I am going to do them incorrectly. But, I always figure things out and am actively learning that it is more than okay to ask for help!
Words of Encouragement for First-Gen College Students
Know that you are not alone! Even though it may feel like it, there are so many other first-gen college students who are in the same situation as you.
Establish a support system of people who believe in you!
Try not to stress! Take breaks when you need them and honor your body and mental wellbeing.
Trust that things will work out ☺️ Be optimistic!