Eduardo Perez is the first in his immigrant family to apply for college, and for him the process has been excruciating. This is the final Perspective produced as part of KQED’s Youth Takeover week.
Ever since I was in 5th grade, my mother always told me these words: “Estudia para que no trabajes como tu papá y yo,” which translates to “Study so that you don’t have to work the jobs like your dad and me.” I never doubted her words or my ability to accomplish her dream, until it was actually time to do it.
As senior year approached, this dream of mine and my family's suddenly became a nightmare. I remember doubting myself, feeling lost, and feeling disconnected from my parents. My parents were immigrants from Mexico who never really knew what I needed to get into college. Applying to schools was one of the most stressful times of my academic life because I had very little guidance despite expectations.
After submitting my applications, I thought I would feel relieved, but I didn’t. This dark cloud followed me for the next couple of months and my anxiety became worse. These challenges are not unique to me, and in fact, many first generation students have to endure them. I am the first in my family to change the cycle and step out of my comfort zone. Many times I feel alone, disconnected from my own family, and become insecure about where I belong.
A few weeks ago, I walked up to my mailbox after school. Inside was a large envelope that said “Congratulations! You are a Gator” on it. I couldn’t believe it…my first acceptance letter! I was so happy and felt reassured.