First-Gen Stories

I wasn't the first one in my family to decide to go to college, I was the first one who had the opportunity.

— Choukri Wyatt, Class of 2018

My parents didn't understand the magnitude of me going to college, but they were still able to provide me with emotional support

— Becky La, Class of 2016

First-Gen Advice

Manuel Leon, Undergraduate Transfer Student

I used to think that facing imposter syndrome was a crippling disability, but in hindsight I was able to see that fear can be such a powerful motivator. My fear of failing pushed me to perform at my limits, and each time I’d discover that I still had some room within to push some more. Beautiful things can come from our imperfections. So, my advice would be to embrace this new journey of growth, to ignore the naysayers (namely yourself!), and move boldly towards your dreams. There are people here at UCLA that are eager and willing to help you along your journey if you just take the time to ask for some help. You belong here, even if you don’t quite feel that you fit the mold yet, but you do and you’re worth it- I promise S2

Image of a student standing in front of a pole that has a panel stating, "Drive Change"

Maria Bello Carrillo, Graduate Student

No dejes que nadien te corte las alas. Some people, even counselors will tell you that you are taking on too much and will doubt your abilities. But stay rooted in your dreams & aspirations, and be your greatest advocate. Thankfully, I have always had the beautiful support of my family, loved ones, and mentors. My greatest advice would be to find a mentor in the field you want to work in or people who have gone through the process. I have had mentors throughout my entire academic journey and I'm so grateful for how much they have poured into me. Don't forget to pay it forward by becoming a mentor yourself. It's always nice to share your own journey & hardships with someone else because it could help motivate them. Cheers to being the first dentista in my family, it is such a blessing and I am humbled to one day be able to serve those who need dental care the most! Somos los arquitectos de nuestro destino, we are the architects of our lives! Keep going, you are needed and wonderfully made.

Image of a First-Gen Graduate student smiling and posing

Catherine Johnson, Graduate Student

I didn't realize how little I knew about college compared to my peers until I finally got to college. Unfortunately, many first-gen student are left in the dark during their younger years. They may not even realize they are first-gen students! I encourage you to help introduce the idea of college as an option to others starting from a young age. As long as they know it's an option, and they have you as a resource, they will be okay! As for yourself, never be afraid to ask others for advice or help - I wouldn't be where I am today without the assistance I've had from others. But I was also fearless in my pursuit of that knowledge - so go after it! I'm excited to not only be a first-gen student but hopefully in a few years I'll be a first-gen doctor!

Image of Catherine Johnson smiling and posing

Adrian San Miguel, Undergraduate Student

Remember you belong here! I feel once you create your community and get involved with more clubs and orgs you feel the love and support at UCLA! It’s a big campus so it can feel like you’re alone but if you make your community and make connections you’ll feel at home!

Image of Adriana SanMiguel smiling and posing

Alejandra Castellanos, Undergraduate Student

Find your community! I promise there are people out there who will not only understand and accept you, but they will also encourage you to better yourself Don't be afraid to put yourself out there! Imposter syndrome is real, but remember that your hard work and perseverance got you here! .

Image of Alejandra Castellanos smiling and posing

Krystal Quinto, Undergraduate Transfer Student

You are meant to be here. Stay resilient, and know you are so capable. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself, and keep dreaming big. Ask for help, go to office hours, join class discord or groupme, set alarms, actively look for resources, and most of all, don’t ever quit.

An image of Krystal Quinto posing and reclining their head on their knee while hugging it.]

Karina Ugalde, Undergraduate Student, Grupo Folklorico de UCLA Member

Keep in touch with your roots, advocate for yourself, and step out of your comfort zone. When in doubt, remember YOU belong at UCLA <3

Image of Karina Ugalde smiling while looking at the camera.

Nadir Founani, UCLA Resident Director

Don’t forget to have a balance of fun with your academics. It’s important to find your community, whatever that means to you. Having a support system is a big contributor to your success. See your first-gen identity as an advantage and an opportunity, even when it can be hard or frustrating. You belong here! I believe in you! You will succeed and you will graduate.

Image of Nadir Fouani smiling and posing with Joe Bruin (UCLA Brown Bear mascot)]

Margaret Jacob, UCLA Distinguished Professor of History, Member of American Academy of Arts & Science

Never let any one discourage you or bad mouth higher education. My mother cleaned floors and my dad drove and fixed cars. Just keep working!

An image of Margaret Jacob, smiling and looking at the camera while holding a book.