First-Generation Students Share Their Experiences In College

A first-year trio who are determined to reach their goal; graduating college.

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First-generation students gathered for some quality bonding time at the Hudson Lounge on Oct.17 at Mercy College. Unlike, other events at Mercy College, the first-generation event is one of the most important and popular events. Faculty advises all first-year students to join them for a comfortable adjustment into the college life as well as getting to know others who share the same similarity.

The frustrated and scared feeling for first-year students is always overwhelming. They are newbies.

Faculty understands how difficult it is for first-year students to step out of their comfort zone, but this adjustment is needed in order for them to make the most out of their college career. Mercy College offers various resources and events to help make their transition to college smoothly. The first-generation pizza party event brought together three students who met before the event and wanted to get to know other first-year students.

These three students come from different backgrounds who believe they are role models to their siblings as first-year students. Their parents have completed some college time or they have not. However, their parents’ excitement of seeing their children move forward in life when they couldn’t gives them much joy, they say. All three students have supportive parents and they have been pushing them to do their best.

Freshman Amanda Fishkin is currently studying Health Science and plans in becoming a P.A. orthopedic, but that may change as she goes deeper in her major. She is the youngest of three children. Her older brother received his associate’s degree and her sister made it to college but with help from a relative after failing out of high school.

She considers herself as a first generation student because she was able to get into college on her own and plans to study the four years as well as getting into grad school. Fishkin wants to complete the full ride into college –  no shortcuts or easy paths. 

“For me, it’s more than a degree. I am just starting but at the end, you really see how much you have accomplished and everything you worked for is going to pay off.” 

Fishkin graduated with honors from a catholic school near her hometown. She is a bright student and takes her academics seriously at Mercy College. Fishkin is determined to do her best and make her parents proud. Four years seems far away, but Fishkin will keep pushing until she receives her “award.”

“After four years, my diploma is my award. An award to myself that I had to work hard for. And you say to yourself wow I did this for me, is the best feeling.”

Just like Fishkin, there are other students who have a goal and are determined to accomplish it. Fishkin met another first-generation student during the first week of classes, who later became good friends.

Johnathan Tatavitto is the middle child of six who is studying psychology and dreams in working in the field by helping others. He a friendly person who enjoys being around others. His focused self knows what path to take and is willing to accomplish it until the end.

“For what I want to do in life requires a college education. So far my college experience is great. I love it and the work is not as bad as everyone thinks. But yet again it is only my first year,” says Tatavitto.

Tatavitto is well-focused on his classes and his career goals. His parents are extremely happy for his attendance in college. His three older siblings did not attend college at all. Therefore, Tatavitto did not have his siblings to look up to and had to make it to college on his own. College is a whole different level and can become overwhelming at times when you are the first generation in attending.

“This is the real deal now but at the same time we can have fun too. Making new friends, sharing common interests, exploring new things and studying is the new trend,” says Tatavitto.

Tatavitto did not have role models and changed the Tatavitto pattern of not attending college. He is now the role model of his two younger siblings who are so proud of him and who look up to him every day. Both siblings are happy of how far he has come and cannot wait to see him cross the stage in four years. Yes, it is far but, it is worth the wait for both Tatavitto and his family.

As the first week of classes began, both Fishkin, a resident at Mercy College and Tatavitto, a commuter met with another first year-student. A completion of the trio. It is unbelievable how the campus is small and you are able to meet with so many people who have similarities, they stated.

Sara Mcnair is the first of her four siblings to attend college. She is excited and hoped her mother would be too. However, her mother has a different intake about the whole college life and she occasionally feels the pressure. 

“My mother expects too much from me. I am the first to attend college but the weight of my mother of wanting me to be perfect is overwhelming. However, I am not backing down and plan to move forward no matter the pressure or challenges I come across,” says Mcnair.

Mcnair is a role model for her young siblings. She plans to finish college and take her diploma straight to her mother so she can hang it up on the wall. The wall that gives motivation for her young siblings every day to work harder and for someday have their diplomas hanging next to their big sister.

This trio of first-generation students are the key to their families. They are setting an example for their siblings and want to achieve something never done before. Every dream has to have a start, and it began as the three met and share the same similar paths.  And while the “pizza party” did not deliver on the promise of pizza, they three met, and that is even better.