Student Stories

Read inspiring stories from first-generation students at Stanislaus State.

Graduate Student, Public Administration

“My mom drives a forklift in cold storage and my dad works in food processing. Both of them are from Mexico. My dad didn’t go to college; I think he got as far as the sixth grade. My mom took some college courses and studied how to do clinical work. But they always wanted their children to go to college. They’d make sure we noticed how early they had to get up to go to work. My mom gets up at 3 a.m. every workday and gets home between 3 and 5 in the afternoon. My dad goes in at 6 a.m. and gets home at 5 p.m. They told us that we have opportunities since we’re citizens and we can go to school. That was a big motivation, especially growing up in a very rural town like Farmersville. Their message was that we had a chance to pursue lives that were polar opposites. We could stay home and not go to school and work in laborious jobs or we could get a degree that will provide us with more options.”

“I do want my kids to go further than me in their educations, so even if I get my master’s I want them to do even more, to reach for the possibilities that I might not be able to reach. I want them to make an impact on the community greater than I will be able to make in my lifetime. College will not be optional for my kids. My boyfriend and I are both here at Stanislaus State and we’re both from Farmersville. We both see how rough life can be — it’s not an easy world, even with a college degree.

“I wanted to be a crime scene investigator, but in my senior year I reevaluated my calling. I was always taught that we have to give back to our community. I’m thinking that with my degree I could go into the District Attorney’s office and become an advocate for victims, children and other groups, or maybe work in non-profit organizations. If I’m meant to be back in Farmersville, then that’s where I’ll go."

Graduate Student, Single-Subject Credential Program

“The first time I came to Stan State was for an orientation in July. After orientation, I wandered around the campus and went through the buildings. I ran into faculty and staff who wondered if I was lost or in needed help, but I was just exploring and getting a feel for my new home. I wanted to know where to find my professors and my classes.”

“My parents understood that after high school there is another step, but they really had no way of understanding what college was like. They pushed me and my siblings to go to college, but at the same time they realized that college wasn’t for everybody and if you weren’t fit to go to college you went out and started working. I pushed for college first. They’ve been able to support me with transportation and with some financial needs.”

“My fiancée and I have a daughter on the way. I have a degree and I will push for my kids to attend college. I would like to work somewhere close to a university, perhaps here in Turlock, to make it easier for them to choose Stan State for their own college experience. This is my alma mater, so I’d encourage them to come here. I’m already giving that a lot of thought.”

In my upcoming career as a high school teacher, I hope to encourage my students to explore college, either at Stanislaus or somewhere else. The opportunity is there not only to open those doors for my family, but for my students.”

Junior, Liberal Studies

My parents always encouraged me to go to college and make the best for myself. They had children young so theydidn’t get the opportunity to go to college. My dad joined the military. They pushed me in school, but not too hard. They empowered me and encouraged me, and knowing it would help me get into college, I took AP courses on my own at Gregori High in Modesto.”

“My work in liberal studies has given me an understanding of what makes up a quality education. I’m interested in dual-immersion schools, where students learn in both Spanish and English, and when I have children, I think I’d like to have them in those classes, to get them ahead in their studies. I will also encourage my children to take AP courses in high school to put them ahead. I also will make sure to show them different college campuses — anything I can do to expose them to high education.”

Junior, Mathematics

“When I got to college it was difficult for me. Not only am I a first-generation student, but no one around me at all had gone to college. I asked a lot of naïve questions and I trusted that I wouldn’t be questioned why I was in college if I had to ask such basic questions. I had to ask about how I would go about paying for school, how I would pick classes. Would I get a schedule handed to me like I did in high school? I found a great mentor on campus who broke it down for me. In high school I was active in college-related things, but I still was thrown into this college world that I had to figure out on my own and in many ways I’m still trying to figure out.

“My parents aren’t pushing me through college or asking how I’m doing in classes, but I think that’s because they’ve never been through this before. So, I go at it alone, and sometimes I’m up all night doing homework, getting no sleep, and my mom will check-in on me. There is a lot of encouraging support at home.”

“I learned late in high school how important it is to get involved, but if I hadn’t gotten involved I might not have had the courage to ask the right questions about going to college. I might not have attended college at all. Getting involved in high school gave me a lot more confidence to talk to professional adults, which gave me the comfort I needed to attend college.”

Senior, Business

“I came from Mexico when I was 12 and I wanted to go to college so I started taking advanced classes at Turlock High just so I could come here. I almost didn’t get accepted because I was missing a class, but one of the faculty here helped me get accepted. It’s been tough for me to graduate, class-wise and financially.”

“My parents wanted me to go to college, but they didn’t have enough money to pay for it, so I had to take time off from school twice because I couldn’t afford it. It was the Dream Act program that allowed me to get back into school and afford to come here because it pays about 75 percent of my tuition. Working while going to school allowed me to pay for the rest.”

“I had to figure everything out for myself. When it came time to buy books, I researched the books online. I also was on my own when it came to finding out about scholarships that are available. It was kind of like being on my own for everything.”

I’m really happy because I’ve been able to do this on my own and accomplish so much. I’m studying business and I plan on opening my own business.”

Senior, Mathematics

“My mom always put it in our heads that she wanted us to go to college. She said that she didn’t want us to work, that going to school would be our full-time jobs. She knew that since she and my dad have lived paycheck to paycheck, that she wanted more for us. She told all us kids that if we just got a job right out of high school that we’d have to spend years just trying to get ahead. If we needed textbooks or if our financial aid didn’t cover everything they’d find a way to cover us.”

“My mom wants better for her kids than what she’s had, and she checks on our grades and makes sure we stay on track. I’m so thankful for that because I’ve seen a lot of other students of parents who immigrated here and they don’t really push their kids. I do see that students who had parents who went to college seem to have a different kind of backing. They come to college with a better understanding of the process, like how to get into programs and how to apply for scholarships. My mom didn’t know any of that and we had to learn that along the way. My older sister went to Modesto Junior College first and she was the first to fill-out a FAFSA, and she showed me how to do it. I had to learn the processes of a four-year school all by myself.

“I am getting an education to show the kids I’ll have eventually how to dream and to aspire to great things. I want them to go to college and more.”

Updated: June 21, 2023