A student’s perspective: Life as a first-generation college student

"I cannot express my gratitude enough to everyone who has helped build Virginia Tech into a place where first-generation students feel at home."

I am a proud first-generation college student. To some, this means I am a weak link, that I don’t know what I’m doing, and that I don’t have the preparation I need to get through college. I do not define myself by a lack of knowledge. Instead, I am characterized by the opportunity to find my own path and build a future I take pride in.

When I first learned about First Generation at Virginia Tech (1G@VT), the student organization was still finding its way. It lacked the participants it needed to achieve its goal of being an organization to unite and empower first-gen students. The low membership didn’t deter me; I knew the club could grow to be something amazing. I am so grateful to have joined. I have gained meaningful friendships, developed myself professionally, been able to network with employers and university staff, and so much more through my participation.

At the end of last year, our previous president decided it was time to step down. Seeing the opportunity arise and knowing the dedication I have to improving the organization, I knew I needed to step up as president. It was clear that growing the organization and achieving our goals would be no easy task, but with the help of fellow members and university staff, I am absolutely thrilled with what we have achieved so far this year. Comparing the lack of resources for first-gen students when I came to Virginia Tech three years ago versus the current programs being put into place, I am extremely honored to be part of these changes. I cannot express my gratitude enough to everyone who has helped build Virginia Tech into a place where first-generation students feel at home.

To first-generation students and family, I know the transition is hard. I know you feel lost and confused sometimes, and that’s more than okay. Ask the questions even if you think they are embarrassing. Use whatever resources you need and don’t hesitate to admit when you don’t know something. Holding your diploma at the end of your time here will be more than worth it. Let your goals drive you, do your very best, and you will end your college career with a smile.