On May 21, I hosted a launch party for the First Gen Rise blog! Many of my family and friends were in attendance to show their support and previewed the blog. There was plenty of feedback and a few volunteered to be guest bloggers, so you can look forward to seeing some other perspectives on here soon.
Tell me: What would you like to read on the blog?
Here are a few pictures taken that day:
Dear First Gen,
Four years ago on this day--on May 20, 2012—I graduated from Hofstra University School of Law. It was the (second) best day of my life, since passing the Maryland Bar as a first-time taker was a huge triumph!
On graduation day, I reflected on a few struggles that seemed very big at the time, but were minor in hindsight. Law school taught me that nothing is guaranteed until the very moment it is to happen. My grandmother—then my last living grandparent—told me she would be attending my graduation. I was in disbelief because she had trouble getting on and off airplanes, and I did not want to put her through the trouble. As grandparents do, she said she would be there and I had no doubt about it. I was so glad I could make her proud!
I recall speaking to some of my classmates and hearing a few of their comments that I may have initially been admitted to the school based on meeting a certain criteria rather than based on my merit as a potential law student. It was disheartening, but it helped to know which students may not be the ones to interact with...ever! I did not pay attention to those comments and persevered through the toughest days and nights of my life.
Many graduates would say the life of a 1L (first year law school student), 2L (second year law school student) and 3L (third year law school student) are noticeably different, and to learn the differences as quickly as possible. DITTO!
Dear First Gen,
This past week, my family and I have been coping with the loss of my "great-uncle" (my mother's uncle) and planning his funeral. He planted the seeds for my family’s American Dream by legally bringing my mom's family to the U.S. His actions were the catalyst that gave me an opportunity for a good education and unlimited professional opportunities.
As a child, I often heard the stories of his dream of wanting a lawyer in the family before he left this earth. I never imagined it would be me since my sights were set on being a doctor—Dr. Irnande Altema had a nice ring to it! Although I went to law school in the state where he lived, he was unable to attend my graduation because of his illness but I knew he was proud of me that day.
I often wondered how my mother had so much optimism and faith in a world where I felt the odds were stacked against us. It was her uncle who instilled great values and resilience in my mother; but I did not appreciate (or tap into) that until I was faced with a very tough decision.
Dear First Gen,
First Lady Michelle Obama launched the "Reach Higher Initiative" to motivate every high school student to further their education at a community college, four-year college or university or professional training program. April 26, 2016 was designated as "College Signing Day" in the U.S. for all to declare where they plan to attend in the fall, or wear college gear from the school they currently attend or graduated from.
Recently, I had a conversation with a young person who sought my advice on the best college that would make them more attractive for a Staffer position in a legislator's office. The importance of selecting a college cannot be overstated; it is the prime location to connect with the right people who can teach you the precise steps to become the professional you aspire to be. This particular student narrowed the college choices down to two institutions. They would deliver different outcomes, but they were having a hard time determining which one would lead to achieving the ultimate goal. Here's what I recommended for them.
Have you ever felt like the odd person out? Feeling as if you should understand the information or progress similar to your peers since you are just as capable, eager, and skilled, but you are not getting the same results? On numerous occasions—as a first-generation graduate and now a professional—I shared this same feeling. Thus, this blog came to be.
There is a unique population growing in America: first-generation students and graduates. Right now, our group is not usually discussed or recognized because our unique set of challenges and experiences often get mixed into the broad category of African-American, Asian, Hispanic, or European students. Our experiences are not given much priority, so being a “first gen,” I felt compelled to create a new forum for us. Here, our emotions and successes will be acknowledged and understood, and we’ll discuss strategies for how to best accomplish or overcome certain situations.
Our ancestry—regardless of ethnic background—has so many examples of our work ethic, commitment and drive. I have seen first gens rise to greater heights once we learn the rules of engagement. With this blog, I hope to introduce you to my experience and those of other first gens, as well as give you different resources and information that may help you achieve more success. Thanks for joining me on the journey.
Tell me: What topics would you like to see addressed here?
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