Dear First Gen,
For as long as I can remember, I was so excited at the thought of being a first-generation college #graduate. Before I knew it, my final semester was coming to an end and it was almost time for me to start my new life. Thankfully, the week before graduation, I accepted a job working at a high school in Mississippi. I would not start my job for a couple of months, but that was cool with me. I could use a nice summer break for a change!
While I was looking forward to what I’d be doing in the months to come, I was struck with the fact that I had no immediate plans until it was time for me to move. I literally did not even know where I was going to lay my head for the next few months. I was certain though that I was not going to move back home because a large part of me was concerned that I’d be taking a step back. I was too worried about other’s thoughts of me having failed because I was back home.
I was frantic the week of #graduation because everything was happening so quickly. Not only did I need a place to stay, I would also no longer be employed at the place where I’d been working since my freshman year of college. I remember feeling so doomed at this point because graduation was now only a few days away and I really needed to pull it together.
I was getting scared because it started to hit me that I would no longer have access to a residence hall, cafeteria, or safe place. I would no longer be a part of the campus community and would lose quick access to my professors and mentors. While I had a laptop, I was going to have to give it back because it was only loaned to me as a part of my accommodations for being an Honors College student.
I had no idea where my money was going to come from or where I’d get my next meal. I was losing all sense of security that I’d had for 4 years and it felt like a small crisis. However, I knew that it was on me to take care of my business and myself.
Two days before graduation, I was chatting with my sorority sister—who was also about to be a first-gen college grad—about her plans for summer and she was as frantic as me about not having a place to stay. We decided to take the little money we had and split a cheap two-bedroom apartment until it was time for me to move to Mississippi. I don’t recall how she found the place, but we submitted an application that day and found out the next day we’d been approved. As soon as she got the call, we hurried over to pay our deposit and pick up our keys. (Oh, gosh! I was a real adult!)
Moving after the graduation ceremony was pretty easy for us since we had no beds, dining table, kitchen utensils, couch, food in the fridge… nothing. Yet we had a place to stay and that was better than just a few days prior.
Eventually, we started accumulating furniture: I bought a blowup bed from Walmart and we got a couch that had been donated to us. Soon, my sister got a table from Walmart that we put together in one night.
Our groceries were often milk and cereal, eight-piece chicken from Walmart, spaghetti, and tacos. It wasn't glamorous, but we were fresh out of college and we didn’t want for much, so we were good. I also got a temporary job with my old employer and was able to work for a month until I relocated.
Looking back at that time of my life, I often laugh because while I had a college degree, my life didn’t look anything like what I thought it would. See, having a degree doesn’t mean that all of your challenges, financial or otherwise, are going to magically disappear.
However, I learned quite a few lessons and some I’d like to share with you:
The world is big and learning to face it can be scary; however, there are so many people who have traveled a similar road, so don’t ever doubt that you’ll be just fine. No matter the situation you’re faced with, trust that you’ll figure it out.
Dr. Eve Hudson
(Host behind The First-Gen Lounge)
***Disclaimer: 2019. All rights reserved. All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. No reproduction of any content on the website without the express permission of the author. The text, pictures and videos are the sole property of FirstGenRise.
Dear First Gen,
There is lots of reading in college and continues to be even more voluminous in graduate school.
The final year of college was an interesting time for me. I was a pre-med student, but I was not headed to medical school. I suddenly found myself wondering, “Where do I go? What do I do now? Should I find a job or attend a graduate program?”
During winter break, I began to map out my next steps. I spoke with my mother about my options since I was not going to be a medical student the following year. She could not give me an answer during our conversation, but reassured me that an opportunity would present itself.
I was unaware at that time that she planned to do some research on my behalf, and she later shared what she found. She came across several master’s programs that created a path to help me enter medical school, as well as several policy programs. She assisted in the only way she knew to help relieve my feelings of despair.
After I reviewed the list of programs she had found, I applied to several and visited their campuses during orientation. I sat down with my mother again and told her about my likes and dislikes for each of the programs. She primarily liked Georgetown University’s M.S. in Biomedical Policy & Advocacy Program because it was close to home, while I liked the courses and the fact that it was a one-year program. This program matched my interests in policy and the sciences.
I was impressed that my mother picked this program, and proud of her for having listened to me for several years and researching programs that would enhance my qualifications and pique my intellectual curiosity.
Prior to graduating from college in 2007, I received an acceptance letter for the Georgetown program and was beyond ecstatic. This was the bridge I needed to connect me to public policy while enhancing my passion for the sciences.
During the program, I developed my writing skills for a non-scientific community, deepened my understanding of communications of emergency situations and emerging public health issues, and learned how science could revitalize the U.S. economy.
When I was at that crossroads my senior year, my parents did not know how to advise me. But my mother knew she had a resource…the internet! She sat at the home computer until she found results that might work as a “filler” before I went on to medical school. My plans for medical school ultimately changed, but my graduate education was a springboard for the doctorate program I chose.
In graduate school, I learned two main lessons:
These steps helped me to interact with my peers who were uncertain about the opportunities beyond an undergraduate education by linking up with professionals that sought to help us rise up or provide insight on how we could maximize our master’s degree to enter different positions.
Tell me: Which program are you considering and why haven’t you said yes?
***Disclaimer: 2017. All rights reserved. All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. No reproduction of any content on the website without the express permission of the author. The text, pictures and videos are the sole property of FirstGenRise.
Dear First Gen,
Summer is officially here!
Many businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits hire interns to help them during the summer, and it is most certainly an invaluable experience. I have had my fair share of internships/externships before I obtained full-time employment in 2012. My internship experience extends beyond the standard one-page resume! Over the next few months, my blog posts will touch on the various ways to make the best of your summer break as well as the start of your (first) job. Click on the video to find out what is in store for you this summer.
Tell me: What do you want to learn more about this summer?
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!