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.
This month's featured First Gen has embraced her first year of living abroad. Read about her journey in becoming the first in her family to live in another country and miles away from her family.
1. What is your name?
My name is Bridget Lotoft.
2. What is your current occupation?
I am currently working as a Paralegal Specialist in Japan. My previous work experience involves advocacy work within law enforcement and volunteer work with survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
3. What is your education background?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with a concentration in Women Studies and Sociology minor. Also, I earned a Master of Science in Criminal Justice.
4. What is your family background?
My mom and dad are both from South Georgia. My dad joined the Navy and as a result, I moved a lot. My parents divorced and we settled in Glen Burnie, Maryland. I grew up in single-parent home where my mother working overnight while I was in high school was normal. Seeing her work hard to make sure we had our basic needs met motivated me to want to help others in similar situations and further my education. I come from a family that has a lot of secrets and from that, it's pretty divisive. So I am working on recreating my own family traditions. Among my siblings, I am the first to finish school, but I have a few cousins who completed college as well.
5. Do you have any "firsts" recognized by your family?
I am the first of my family to move out of the country.
Dear First Gen,
One of my favorite hobbies is traveling. My brother and I have a friendly competition where if either one of us visits a place before the other, the other sibling works overtime to avoid traveling to that location. (My parents are not fans of our "explorer" spirit.)
I have met several first gens who do not own a passport or have used their passport to only travel to their family's birth country. Yes, it was shocking for me to hear, too! Recently, I returned from a trip and enjoyed the culture, the food, beach and also learned how two languages were simultaneously taught in a classroom and reinforced at home.
For example, my friend and I were in the post office mailing postcards to our friends and family back home. My friend asked the postal worker how to say pen in their language and she responded. Another customer, older woman, joined the conversation and began singing a song that taught her certain words in both languages including the pen. Another customer overheard her and sang along and then the postal worker chimed in and sang along, too. The young postal worker confirmed a decades-old classroom instruction still being taught and had not been forgotten by the two older women.
A fellow first gen has written the guest post below:
As a first-generation law student, I was surprised that so many of my classmates were children of attorneys. Many of them had worked at their parents’ law firms prior to starting law school and they had established connections. I, on the other hand, didn’t have the skills or a single connection to lean on when I entered law school. But I have found that a love for travel is a great way to connect with people.
There are so many reasons to study abroad. You will make friendships that last a lifetime, you will experience a new country as a local, and you will broaden your horizons more than you thought possible.
Your study abroad experience is also something that will enhance your ability to connect with people throughout your life. When you go on interviews or to networking events, many other professionals will have traveled extensively, and your study abroad experience will give you talking points and help you make connections with people who share your passion for traveling.
As excited as I was to study abroad in my second year of law school, I was even more excited to head to the “motherland.” My relatives left Italy in the 1920s, but their traditions remained strong and have influenced my life in many ways. Although I had been to Europe once before, I had never been to Italy.
This month’s featured First Gen is also outstanding, has a knack for simplicity, and is admirably humble. He pursued his graduate education out-of-state and impressed his classmates by being valedictorian of his graduating class. (I thought I would mention it since he would want to keep it quiet.)
1. What is your name? Charlie Mileski
2. What is your current occupation? Attorney
3. What makes you a first-generation graduate/professional? I am the first person in my immediate family to attend graduate school and to become an attorney.
4. What was your proudest moment as a first generation? And why? My proudest moment as a first generation was my graduation from law school. Law school was stressful and full of challenges. However, I powered through. My entire family attended my graduation, most traveling cross-country. Seeing my parents’ and brothers’ faces and the tears in their eyes as I received high honors and graduated made it all worthwhile.
5. What advice would you give to a first-generation student, graduate, or professional? Always be prepared and always plan for what may happen in the future. As long as you have a set plan and set goals, you will have a personal guide to success.
6. What is your favorite quote? And why? "Kid, you’ll move mountains! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!" [Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss)] This is an amazing quote because there will be mountains to overcome and you'll always need a reminder that you can overcome them!
***Disclaimer: 2016. 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.