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My story - first generation to college

Even if you are a first generation college student, you can use your parents’ experience and enthusiasm for education to help you reach college

My story - first generation to college

My name is Nathalia Martinez, and I am a First Generation Scholar. At my college, that is a scholarship for students who have achieved academic excellence and are the first in their immediate family to attend college. Scholars are to complete at least 30 hours of community service a semester and participate in several leadership development seminars.

I am a junior studying political science and Spanish. As a First Generation Scholar, I am a tutor and mentor for the Hispanic Youth Leadership program. The scholarship allows me to connect with other students who are also first in their families to attend college.

My parents did not have the opportunity to attend college. My dad was born and raised in Puerto Rico and moved to Rochester, N.Y., at age 17.

College was not originally part of my plans. I did poorly in elementary school and managed to fail third grade. Growing up, I could barely speak proper English or Spanish; I spoke Spanglish. I struggled to keep my grades up, and I went through several speech and tutoring programs.

Once I entered high school, I joined student government, musicals, Hispanic Youth Leadership Institution and Generation Give Back with the American Red Cross. My involvement with many groups allowed me to develop as a person and motivated me to seek higher education.

I worked closely with my counselors and teachers when applying to college. Although my parents did not go to college, they encouraged me to attend. My mom dedicated her weekends to taking me to visit schools. My father would call colleges to get my application status. My parents understood my strong feelings toward education.

Being the first to attend college is an honor, and I know my parents are proud of me. For all the first generations scholars out there, ask questions, get involved and never get discouraged.

Nathalia Martinez is studying political science and Spanish at St. John Fisher College.


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