Friday, Nov. 1, 2019—UMass Boston student Marlen Godinez shares her story.
As November rolls around, it is time to celebrate all the accomplishments of the UMass Boston Community, and no one deserves this celebration more than the many First Generation Students here today. The Mass Media sat down with Marlen Godinez, a senior Latin American and Iberian studies major, for an interview on what life is like at UMass Boston as a first-gen student.
Being a first generation student means different things to everyone. To some, it may mean getting that job that they would not have been able to before. To others, it is about pride in themselves, and their families. When asked what being a first first generation student meant to her, Godinez stated, “Being first generation means having an opportunity to break out of stigmas from the family. Also, having the opportunity to do something new that maybe my parents were not able to do just because they were not able to receive a full education. But I was granted that opportunity here in the U.S.”
As for her parents, Godinez said, “I think that is one of their dreams, to see their kid be able to head into college and be able to do something that they did not have the opportunity of doing. I am the only one of four that is attending college, but for them, it is something. They are happy to see that I am happy while also doing something that I love, and they know in the end it is going to be something. It will be a sacrifice that was worth doing. I do sometimes have to sacrifice family time, and my social life is also brought down from school and work, but it’s going to be a whole different thing once it is done with.”
When questioned about the types of challenges she faced on the road, Godinez said “I had a lot of challenges because, being the first in my house to head to college, I had to really delve through everything and figure things out for myself, such as the application, applying for financial aid, figuring out where to find resources to help me go through college, etc. Overall, it has been a long road, but I think I managed it slowly, and I think it’s hard but at the same time it’s gratifying to know that you’re doing things on your own, and you’re making progress, as a first generation student.”Godinez also stated “It was stressful for me, I did take time off of school for my first semester because I was not really sure what I wanted to pursue as a degree. Financially too, it was really stressful for me. But I think the more that you learn to balance your own life, the better journey life becomes.”
As a senior, Godinez wished to leave some advice for other First-Gen students. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions around campus,” she said. “Find all the resources that are available. There are a lot of resources around campus. You just have to really investigate, talk to people, network with other people. The more you network, the more you become involved. There is a lot of clubs and organizations. I did do GASA when I first started here, but because of school, I was not able to continue with that, but GASA is a really good resource. There is also a program called SSS, Student Support Services. They’re available to anyone that is first-gen, low income, or any other issue. They’re very helpful in terms of their focus on individual students, making sure that they work through their college process more easily, because they know that It can be hard for a first-gen to really figure out things, and that it can be stressful.”
After college, Godinez plans to travel and to work with communities on diversity. To hear more from Marlen Godinez, and many others, check out this week’s episode of Riptide at UMassMedia.com.