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What is a First-Gen Student?

First Gen is short for first generation, and according to the Department of Education (ED), first generation is defined in three ways:

1) an individual with parents without a bachelor's degree; and/or

2) an individual who did not live with a supporting parent before turning 18; and/or

3) an individual who lived with a single-supporting parent without a bachelor's degree before turning 18. 

 

Read and learn more about some of our first gen stories and experiences from different TAMIU students, alumni, faculty and staff in our featured spotlights below! 

 

First Gen Spotlights

Ana Ramos

Ana Ramos

Undergraduate Student

"...As cheesy and direct as it may sound, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and attempt new things."

My name is Ana Ramos. I was born and raised in Laredo, Texas. As a 19-year old student, I am pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Biology in order to build a foundation for medical school. I have a natural personality trait of being reserved in many aspects. I usually make decisions on my own, stay in my personal bubble, am quite antisocial, and usually restrain myself from trying new things.

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However, being aware of my “weaknesses” and exploring ways to come out of my comfort zone has been my biggest, yet greatest challenge. In just my second year of college, I have joined a total of 9 organizations, including TRiO STEM, where each one has helped me grow and develop new qualities upon my character.

A current experience that I think has completely helped me flourish would be volunteering as an actor at the “Black Out” haunted house organized by an organization I pertain to, Gen One. Never did I think I would be acting as a “haunted house tour guide” and leading guests into a haunted house while ridiculously screaming and laughing all just for the sake of entertainment. However, I did, and have surprisingly enjoyed it.

Stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things has been one of the many challenges as a first-generation student, but I guess I can say that taking on that challenge has only impacted me in a positive manner. To any other first-generation students, as cheesy and direct as it may sound, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and attempt new things. It might surprise you how capable you really are!

Hayley Kazen, PhD

Hayley Kazen, PhD

Assistant Professional

"I found that my small-town upbringing put me at a disadvantage in some classes, but I learned how to do additional research and speak to people who could help me fill in the gaps."

I am a first-generation college student. My high school graduating class consisted of 100 people. I attended college three hours away from home at the University of Texas at Austin. One dorm could have housed my entire town; one class consisted of 800 students. It was definitely a culture shock.

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Of course, I felt lost and underprepared; however, I learned. Learned how to manage my time, learned how to study, learned how to navigate the world outside of my small town. I found that my small-town upbringing put me at a disadvantage in some classes, but I learned how to do additional research and speak to people who could help me fill in the gaps."

"I wanted to succeed for myself and for my parents. I am happy to say I graduated with honors in front of my entire extended family. After graduating, I worked for two years, and then I went back to school at the University of Texas El Paso and earned an MA in sociology. A few years later, I moved to Laredo and began working at TAMIU. While working here, I earned an MA in English and a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M College Station."

"With each degree, I learned something new about being a successful student and getting the most out of my educational opportunities. I encourage all students, especially first-generation students, to take advantage of all the resources TAMIU offers. You are not alone!

First-Gen Resources

Looking for more resources to help you as a first generation? We all need help from time to time as a first generation, so here are some additional resources to help you along your first-gen journey in academia. Remember, you are not alone!