In my family, not going to college was not an option. I knew I always wanted to go to college, but did not know where. As I developed a study focus, I narrowed it down to the University of La Verne. But I was always frightened of college. Even though I had cousins who went to college, my immigrant parents never had an opportunity to attend. So, when it was time to apply, fill out the Federal student aid applications and create a college schedule, I felt completely lost. My parents and I did not know where to start. For a first generation student, the financial aid applications were super complicated and difficult to understand. Since I chose a private university, the cost was the biggest stress for my family and me. I did not receive much financial aid. And if filling out the FAFSA application were not difficult enough, getting a student loan approved and understanding the differences between unsubsidized and subsidized loans were even more complicated. The burden of paying for these loans fell on my parents and me. Since my parents wanted me to have a better life than they did, they made a sacrifice to provide me with the opportunity to attend La Verne. I remember worrying about not getting a loan and not being able to pay for college.
Without a college education, I believe all the opportunities I have received, including great internships, would not have been possible. Another stress I faced as a first generation student was the pressure of starting a new school and the academics of college. I have always been paranoid about my grades and have always put much dedication into school. I was naïve about college and only knew what people told me. I had this fear of the curriculum being too tough and my failing.
So, I had major anxiety my first semester to the point where I had to take anxiety medication. I remember one time, a few weeks into the semester, I was in my art history class and could not breathe. I had this paranoia about not knowing how my first college semester would play out. At times, I could not sleep, eat or think. I felt like I was not going to make it through college. Although my parents were always supportive, they did not really know the stresses of my academic and college life, or how I felt.
As I began to get used to the University and college life, everything fell into place. I put my all into my school work and ended up doing very well. I am glad that I persevered. Now that I am going to be a senior, I am proud of myself for making it through college and breaking the cycle in my family. Like Jerome Garcia, my real passion is not just receiving my degree but instead actually helping people and providing a service to humanity through my expertise in journalism. Without having a real reason for obtaining my degree, it would mean nothing.
Natalie Veissalov, Editor-in-Chief