Building connections and confidence
As a first-generation student, I was extremely eager to go to college. Along with the excitement, I also had doubts. I questioned if I was even smart enough to be a college student. Now that I am in the "arena," I know I have what it takes to be here.
Being in college has allowed me to become a better person. I feared I would not make any connections, but I now feel more confident. That confidence has given me a stronger agency over my life that I may not have had if I did not face my “fears” of being in college.
The first few weeks of school were an emotional roller coaster. I struggled with being away from my family, feeling like an outcast and having many other personal issues. I reached out to staff and students in the Trenchard Foundation Institute of Excellence (TFIOE) of the Nebraska College Preparatory Academy (NCPA) program. They let me know that what I was feeling was normal. We built a strong connection, and now I feel like I have a community here on campus, which makes me feel less like an outcast.
Connecting with mentors who have "been there, done that" has helped a lot. Here on campus, there are a lot of programs that offer mentorships. I have a mentor who is also in the same major as I am, so I get that firsthand advice, which is super beneficial. We eat lunch in the union, go rock climbing, meet at the rec center and do things that help me feel more connected. The advice I’d tell my high-school self is to "strive for the stars because the ground is overcrowded."
I have learned to reward myself when I am done with assignments; I call or FaceTime my family and catch up as my reward. If I do not have a lot of homework or a big exam, I also like to go home on the weekends, which encourages me to get all my homework done throughout the week so that I can go back and spend some time with my family.
It was difficult to be away from my family because we had been stuck like glue for 18 years. Now that I am in Lincoln, I had to get comfortable with being away. Ever since my cousin received a scholarship to run track in college, I've dreamed of going to college. Being here at Nebraska has turned that dream into a reality.
The staff in college access and success programs, like NCPA and TRIO, assure me that I have a support system that consists not only of my family but also people here on campus. They are rooting for me and willing to assist me with crossing that stage at graduation.
I expected my experience at Nebraska to be great, and that is just what it has been. The vibes are great. Everyone is always smiling. Even the squirrels we have on campus greet you with joy. For any down moment that I have at Nebraska, there are 10 other great moments that help keep me going