First Gen College Students Share Their Journeys

First-generation college students are paving the way toward brighter futures not only for themselves, their family but also their communities.

First Generation College Students
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First-generation college students are paving the way toward brighter futures not only for themselves, their family but also their communities. We are proud to spotlight two first generation students, Xavier and Gloria, as we acknowledge the challenges they overcame and accomplishments they have achieved to become the first person in their family to attend college.

Xavier and Gloria are both in their first year of college at Arizona State University and employed with Education at Work. Xavier is studying electrical engineering and expects to graduate in 2021. Gloria is studying biomedical engineering and is on the path to graduate in 2023.

Xavier Alan Guerrero Toquinto, an Arizona native, has dreams of helping people in his future. He mentioned how being the first one in his family to go to college means that he is setting an example to his family in hopes to encourage his siblings. Xavier always knew he wanted to apply to Arizona State because it had one of the best engineering programs in the state. Xavier is the first in his family to move out of his house which he has done to fully invest himself in his studies.

“Working at EAW proved to me that I can get a real job,” said Xavier. “The connections I’ve made working here reminds me how thankful I am to be a part of the team.”

Gloria Guadalupe Barragan Barragan, also from Arizona, focuses heavily on her academics and still makes time to work her part-time position here at EAW.

“I am actually very shy when I first get introduced to people,” said Gloria. “Working here has helped me with my communication skills and how to present myself professionally.” 

While Gloria dedicates most of her days at school and work, she commutes almost an hour on the metro to get home at the end of the day. She says that this commute reminds her how important an education will be for her and her family which is all the motivation she needs to excel in college.

As this is their first official semester at a university, both students reflect on experience at a large university. Both Xavier and Gloria noticed that they are one of the few Hispanic students in their engineering classes. “The culture shock was real, I was not used to not seeing students that didn’t look like me,” Xavier said. Although the demographics are different, they did not let this discourage them, instead, they felt even more motivated and reminded themselves how important earning a degree is to them. “I actually felt very welcomed on campus, it makes me feel proud to represent the Hispanic community,'' said Gloria.

Xavier and Gloria also revealed some personal goals with us as well. Xavier hopes to pass his final exams and get more involved on campus. He mentioned that working at EAW has given him a broader perspective on campus life and how important student connections can be. He plans to work harder on his time management skills and how to balance a social life around his work and studies. His long-term goal is to study for his pilot license in hopes to one day become an astronaut.

Gloria hopes to learn how to balance her schoolwork along with her other responsibilities. One of the goals she is striving to do is to try to live closer to campus within the next year and possibly joining a club or organization on campus as well. She is thankful for EAW for pushing her out of her comfort zone and learning how to make personal and professional connections with the other students. Her long-term goal is to eventually help those in need of medical assistance and have the resources for their health to be treated.

Education at Work is proud of our first-generation students for continuing their journey with us. We hope to guide these students during this new adventure and help them to achieve their biggest goals.

By Berenice Zubiate, EAW Student Digital Reporter