Four Years Later
31 Mar 2020 2:05 PM
As a first-generation college student, my time here at college has not always been sunshine and rainbows. Upon arriving, I was faced with a few difficult circumstances such as:
- Living not only off-campus, but out-of-town as a first-year student with no sense of community
- Being an open option student with absolutely no idea what I wanted to do
- Not knowing how to study effectively
- Not knowing how to ask for help
After the first two years went by, opportunities began to appear, and I leapt at every single one. I selected a major that interested me. I studied abroad. I moved to Ames. I threw myself into my education and into activities and organizations that interested me. I was able to create meaningful relationships with people I could be friends with and experience life with. Through these opportunities, I was able to find meaningful work and emerge as a leader within different student organizations and become an even better version of myself.
During my first two years, I really did want to get away from here . I still felt like I was in high school, commuting to classes and on top of that I knew almost no one here which strongly contributed to the feeling of not belonging. As a result of that, I searched for other schools where I might fit in better--other schools that my friends at the time attended so I could be somewhere I knew more people. I even contemplated dropping out and moving back home because that is all I ever knew. Despite all odds, I stayed. I knew there was something out there for me. I didn’t know that after my second year everything would get better. I told myself that I was going to study abroad with the money I had saved through cutting down on costs for two years.
Before I left for that trip, my brother was hospitalized and put into a medically induced coma after suffering a brain aneurism. This situation made it very difficult to decide on what I should do. As days in the hospital went by, I really had to think about whether I should stay with my family where I felt needed or should I go where I needed be? It felt selfish, but after a lot of thinking and reassurance from my parents that they did not need me to stay and were able to handle it, I packed my bags and left the country. Little did I know that this would be the turning point of my college career, studying abroad taught me money management, time management, and how to adapt to new environments. I got to meet some of the people I consider my best friends now as well. Though the decision to leave my family amidst the chaos was terribly difficult, spending a month in Dublin, Ireland allowed me to grow, and invest in myself so that I could succeed when I returned to the United States.
Months after studying abroad, I ended up moving into my first apartment and getting deeply involved with a student organization. As I sit here writing this post, I never thought that I would be in the situation that I am, roughly two months away from graduation. I suddenly realize how true it is when they say time flies when you’re having fun. I am so grateful for my time here at Iowa State and am glad that I stayed.
As I reflect on my time here as a first generation student, I really begin to appreciate everyone I have had the opportunity to known and learn from, and those who invested time in getting to know me. Through all the people, teachable opportunities, and experiences while at Iowa State, I was able to receive the tools I needed to become successful. Additionally, I want to mention my parents, who have continuously overcome everything life has thrown their way. Without their love and constant support through all four years, I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today.