The Oracle

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Talking ’bout my (first) generation


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As finals week draws nearer and nearer, so does my inherent ability to have crippling anxiety the entire month beforehand.

I can  firmly say that every student can relate. But not every parent can.

Being a first-generation student means that finals week will be  stressful for all the usual reasons,  but also that I’ll have to think about everyone who is tracking my successes along the way. Being a first-generation student means that I not only have to pass for myself, I have to pass for my parents and every generation before them that also didn’t go to college.

This isn’t always such a stressful thought, though. Being a First Gen is a rewarding experience. Some things could definitely be easier, but I wouldn’t want anything to be different, and I would never trade this feeling of accomplishment and pride for anything. Hamline student Miranda Janssen agreed, stating “…my parents have always held me to higher standards than my peers and I feel privileged to be able to attend college.”  Sometimes, knowing that I’m doing this for my family is what keeps me going. In a conversation with Janssen – a second-year with junior standing, studying criminal justice and legal studies with a paralegal certificate – she told me that her experience as a First Gen has also been extremely motivating and prideful.

“It’s exciting to be a first-generation student[,] but at the same time the label can be stereotyped as negative in the way that your parents may be stupid or lazy. I am proud to be a first-generation student and making my family proud and I like that Hamline give[s] so much support for first-generation students.”

Your parents will never tell you this – or maybe they will – but they can’t help but hope that you are going to come back and share your hard-earned story with them. It’s every parent’s dream, if they didn’t go to college, that their baby will grow up and go to college, since they never got to. They hope that you will go to school, get an education, and live a richer life than they could dream of. Most of all, they hope that when you’re done with all that, they won’t be forgotten. Your parents depend on you to live a life they never had. They depend on you to give them excitement, vicariously – to give them a dream to nourish.

Being a first-generation student means that you’re going to college for yourself, for your family, for everyone who couldn’t go to college, for everyone who wanted to go to college, and for everyone who has yet to go to college. Being a first-generation student means taking on the responsibility of carrying your community with you – teaching them what you learn, building them up as you yourself are being built up. Just going to college is enough to mean all of that. Passing and graduating are even more nerve-wracking thoughts. Despite the nerves, though, being First Gen induces a sense of responsibility and pride in me, knowing that what I’m doing isn’t only for me, but for people I don’t even know..


Being a first-generation student means that I get to pave the educational path for my family after me; it means that I get to be the first to set the example of “a life well lived.” I get a chance to provide for my future, and tend to my past, a chance that my family before me didn’t receive. I get the chance to break a pattern, to do something different than what has been done before.

I can’t say what should have been done, and I can’t help what people might wish they would have done – I can only hope that they are proud that I am doing what they did not. I can only hope that they feel redeemed, for being by my side while I work hard.

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The student news site of Hamline University.
Talking ’bout my (first) generation