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.