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First In Their Generation

by Geneve Lau

photography courtesy of Pexels

The student community at Boston University is diverse, so it’s no surprise that a large portion of the undergraduate population here on campus is made up of first-generation college students.

Kate Salvador, program coordinator in the College of Arts and Sciences Office of Student Programs & Leadership, currently teaches the first-gen section of the FY101 First Year Experience class. Salvador has taught the class for the three years, after having a positive experience with the first-year program in her freshman year of undergrad at the University of Connecticut.

“Being first-gen is a huge source of empowerment and pride for me,” she proudly stated. “I continue working with first-year students now in hopes that I can help make a positive impact on their lives, just as First Year Programs has done for me.”

Erica Mosca (COM ’08) was recently featured on BU Today for founding Leaders in Training, a nonprofit based out of Las Vegas that focuses on empowering first-generation students to graduate college and grow to lead.

Mosca described her experience at BU as very eye opening. She was studying alongside students who had very different opportunities and preparations that she did. For example, some classmates likely received SAT tutoring or attended private boarding schools prior to college.

At the same time, however, she said that in college “at BU, I was living a privileged life in a bubble on Commonwealth Avenue.”

This is the case with many first-generation Terriers, who experience a world so vastly different than the one their parents grew up in. With students coming from a large span of backgrounds from all over the world, many students find themselves examining privilege from a new perspective.

Many first-gen students at BU connect over similar experiences, such as filling out the FAFSA with little to no help from their parents or scouring the internet for guidance resources or additional scholarships to apply to. Upon arrival to the university, they relate to not being able to make frequent trips back home if they are far across the country, or attending lavish spring break trips “just because.”

However, the first-generation experience and identity is not one worn with shame. Karla Leon (COM ’22), noted, “I feel proud of my status because it’s a sign that my family and I have come a long way just to get to where I am. I’m happy I’m finally learning to embrace being a first-gen here at BU.”

Tyler Armey (COM ’19), reflected on his growth since arriving at BU.

“I think I’ve embraced the ambition that first generation students have,” Armey said. “I think I have more gratitude for the experience therefore I want to make sure the investment I am making is worth it.”

In honor of First-Generation College Students’ Day on November 8th, The First Gen Connect program at BU featured first-generation students from the Admissions Student Diversity Board on Facebook. Students shared experiences growing up, and they discussed how their parents were a large part of their support network while in school.

In a university as diverse as BU, it isn’t surprising that there is a large popular of first-first-gen students. This diversity also encourages students to embrace the identity that is so life-shaping for their future, and without a doubt, these Terriers are trailblazers ready to take on their world with ambition, and lots of hard work.

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