SWASING | First-generation: More than Just the First to College

When I was very young, my mom used to take me garage-saling in the wealthier neighborhoods. She would show me the big houses, the beautifully landscaped yards and the in-ground pools. She would explain to me that the people that lived in these houses were people who went to college and got good jobs — specifically, they were doctors and lawyers. More importantly, she made it clear to me that I could be one of those people, even though my parents hadn’t been. So, I always knew I was going to college.

GUEST ROOM | A Reflection on 2016 1vyG

Last weekend, I was one of the many students who were given the opportunity of a lifetime of representing Cornell University, First in Class, in the 2016 Inter Ivy League First generation College Student Conference at Harvard University. It was a powerful, yet deeply emotional experience to meet 300 first gens like me who, despite being a student at an elite university, came from very humble backgrounds. As we departed Cornell from the Office of Academic Diversity (OADI), memories of how it all started began to rewind in the corners of my mind. I transferred to Cornell from a community college in Maryland. While at community college, I was a full-time student and worked multiple jobs so I could pay for college and also help my family.

First Generation Cornell Students Attend 1vyG Conference

Over 20 Cornellians attended the second annual 1vyG Conference at Harvard this past weekend where they planned initiatives to help students who are the first in their family to attend college. Attendees gathered to share their stories, networked and “recognized that being first in your family to go to college is an evidence of perseverance, resilience and strength,” according to Janilya Baizack ’17, a member of First in Class — a Cornell organization that provides support for first-generation college students and supports the IvyG Conference. First generation students make up 14 percent of Cornell’s undergraduate community, according to Nicholas Karavolias ’18, a member of First in Class. Nayara Luna ’19, also a member of First in Class, said the conference inspired many of the Cornell attendees to improve the experience of first generation students.. “I’ve never been in such a passionate and energetic setting, where hands were flying up and people were finishing each other’s sentences,” Luna said.