First Generation summit provides room for discussion, fosters community

First-Generation students made their way to Maloney Room for the First Generation Summit on Sept. 22.

Marked as the second summit the Equity and Justice Council (EJC) has hosted, the event allowed attendees to interact and share what it’s like to be a first-gen student. Attendees also participated in a series of listed activities.

Activities ranged from a presentation on stress management, which ended with a stretching exercise, to a group discussion on creating community within first-gen students.

While all contributed to the summit’s success, the highlight of the event was the First-Generation panel, where students opened up about their personal experiences.

Moderated by EJC members Leslie Rios and Alessandra Urbina, the panel welcomed students Eduardo Castellanos, Jose Garibay Medrano and Allison Moujaes to discuss their first-hand experiences as first-gen students.

The panel opened with discussion on the external pressures of being a first-gen student.

Castellanos centered his response on his family. “My pressure is not being relieved with my family. They don’t know that I have tons of homework and not being able to talk to them about these things is hard.”

Castellanos told the audience that we just have to acknowledge [that pressure] because it’s always there.

Focusing on the stress brought on by family, Moujaes labeled that stress as “internal.” In relation to her dad, Moujaes said that she has to remember that he doesn’t know what’s going on in college and, even though she gets mad, she understands he’s just curious.

A person from the audience asked student panelists how they kept a positive outlook and stayed motivated.

“I start thinking my mother went through everything to have me here and it’s my duty to give back,” said Castellanos. “At first I thought, ‘I’m being selfish for coming to college,’ but I now see my impact to my family [and] that is what keeps me going.”

For Moujaes, she has seen her personal experience from a growing perspective.

“It’s just more of self growth,” said Moujaes. “There’s many ways to get to one point. I just tell myself, ‘you’ll get there.’”

Garibay-Medrano took his response and encouraged the audience to look back on their own motivation.

“Think about the reason you started. What’s the first thing that made you believe. There’s a reason why people come to college. Getting yourself back into that mindset is a really positive thing,” said Garibay-Medrano.

On the subject of their biggest accomplishment, students agreed finding that comfort on campus ranks high.

Rios, who also co-coordinated the event with EJC member Bailey Galicia, hopes students, specifically first years, can take away something from this event.

“I know they didn’t have this my freshman year…me and Bailey [Galicia] wanted this to be our priority for the year because freshman are just coming in,” said Rios. “We want to make sure we bring them in and let them know what is out there and how they can be helped.”