Celebrating First Generation College Students

It’s that time of year again! College application season. High school seniors everywhere are filling out questions, writing essays, and meeting submission deadline. Once that’s done, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief. And then nervously anticipate acceptances.

If you’re the first person in your family to go to college, your entire family is going through the process for the first time. We know it can be overwhelming. You’re probably leaning on your friends, teachers, and counselors for advice, moral support, and help figuring out everything from applications to financial aid.

You’re joining a special community. We’re proud of you. And you’re not alone.

A lot of people, including over 50 employees at the San Francisco Fed who are first generation college graduates, know exactly what you’re going through. That’s why we felt it was important for employees to participate in this year’s National First Generation College Celebration. Here are a few words of support and encouragement from a few of our first gen graduates to you.

Amy Ferraz says, as a first gen, I discovered I am stronger and more resilient than I thought.
Amy Ferraz, Program Manager

“I’m so proud to be a first generation college graduate and extremely grateful for the wonderful individuals who helped me navigate uncharted territory.

My peers helped my family figure out the application and financial aid processes. My amazing parents worked multiple jobs so I could stay in school. Countless others provided moral support and encouragement. They all played a critical role in my success. So, if you’re the first in your family to apply to college, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Also, take full advantage of available resources like information sessions, meetings with counselors and mentors, and student network groups. You might even find one for first gen college students just like you.

Applying for college and getting my undergraduate degree was when I discovered that I’m stronger and more resilient than I thought. Always believe in yourself and your capabilities!”

—Amy Ferraz, Program Manager

Gary Longoria says don’t be intimidated. Know that others have gone through the struggle and succeeded, so you can, too.
Gary Longoria, Business Analyst

“First gen, to me, means doing better for myself and my family. It means appreciating those that have helped me succeed and paying it forward by helping others.

If you’re a first generation student, be yourself and do not be intimidated. It takes courage to be the first in your family, so if you’ve decided to go to college, know that others have gone through the same thing and succeeded. You can, too.”

—Gary Longoria, Business Analyst

Raynil Kumar says the future can be scary or exciting, depending on your perspective.
Raynil Kumar, Policy Analyst

“Being first gen means being a trailblazer. I hope that my journey not only benefits myself, but also inspires others by showing them what’s possible.

Be patient and stick with it. It’s difficult to keep going when you grow up with no proof that your effort will be worth it. Somebody has to be the first to take the leap. In the future, people will be thankful it was you.

The future can be scary or exciting, depending on your perspective. We only have so many moments in our lives where endless possibilities are open to us. The beauty of college is that it give you the opportunity to adventure and discover what’s right for you.”

—Raynil Kumar, Policy Analyst

First generation college students create new narratives for their family stories, opening up a world of job prospects and higher earnings potential. But we also know college can be overwhelming. Which is why next year the San Francisco Fed is going to put a new focus on supporting first gen students. To be the first to find out more, sign up for our Economic Education newsletter.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.