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A First-Generation Perspective

Updated: May 20, 2023

Michelle V. shares what being first-generation means to her, and what it looks like every day.

Michelle smiling for her photo in front of an evergreen tree.

"I have a lot of pride in saying that I'm first-generation. I'm a first-generation woman in STEM, and I feel like my parents' hard work has paid off. I do, however, understand just how many obstacles there are that you have to face as a first-generation student. I don't have my parents' point of view when it comes to college. You have to figure out how to survive in a new place. I had to constantly learn how to belong and find different resources at my school.

You definitely realize very quickly that there's a lot you don't know. It's hard to know a lot about college without that passed-down experience from your family. I read a lot of books and watched movies before coming to school showing what it was like to be a college student, and that was my entire vision of the "college experience". But they don't tell my story, they don't show a Latine perspective. Instead, they show a whitewashed and privileged perspective.

One example is that they always show people just putting their card down without a second thought when they are paying for their textbooks at the beginning of the year. When you finally get to college as a first-generation student, you really realize just how expensive those things are. I didn't realize because the movies never made it seem like a big deal. That's not the case for me, I don't have that privilege. I constantly need to look for other ways to get those resources cheaper or free. And they don't teach you that."


Michelle is a Sophomore at CU Boulder this year studying math, and she serves as one of Access Opportunity's Student Ambassadors. If you'd like to learn more about Michelle and hear more of her story, please click here.


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