The University of North Georgia's Student Newspaper




First-Generation Students at UNG Share Their Experience


For many first-generation college students being the first person in their family to attend college is a huge achievement. Having the opportunity to experience a higher education that their parents could not obtain is a proud accomplishment, but the pressure is on.

First-generation students at the University of North Georgia have faced certain struggles from the start. Beginning with the process of applying to school and applying for financial aid.

Sofiya Karimova, current UNG junior, states, “Applying for college was definitely a struggle, I did not receive any assistance from my parents because they don’t speak English.” Karimova explained how she had a hard time due to having to file an individual petition.

“I could not include my parent’s information or identification in the application process because they are not Georgia residents.”

Andrea Phommavongsy is another student that has not only experienced difficulties in applying for financial aid but receiving it as well. Phommayongsy said, “My parents did not qualify for me to receive financial aid and often blamed me for not being able to receive it.”

“However, when I applied for a scholarship, I was able to share a bit of my background and the struggles of growing up with non-English speaking parents.”

Many of these students feel the pressures of their parents depending on them and also the pressure to be successful. The feeling of their family’s future and fortune weighing down on their shoulders can get overwhelming. Aldo Trejo, a current junior, said,” I’ve always dreamed of making it big.” He shares how this pressure has made him overthink if he is worked hard enough that day and if he could have done more.

“I decided to continue my studies for a better future, not just for me, but for my parents, my family and the generations to come.”

It is encouraged for first-generation students to ask questions and at UNG the school makes it easier to talk to somebody.” The school has always helped me.” Karimova said.

“I always feel comfortable asking advisors for help because they show that whatever problem you have will be solved.”

Putting aside the nervousness and pressures of it all, there is a sense of pride in being the first to attend college in your family. “Being the first generation to attend college means the world to me,” says Phommayongsy.” My parents risked their lives to escape a third world country in order to provide a better life for their kids. For that, I’m very blessed.”

“My family loves that I’m pursuing a higher education,” Karimova says. She mentions how in her culture girls her age would have been married with a kid or two, but her parents understand that education is her priority.

Photo curtesy of Sofiya Karimova
Photo curtesy of Andrea Phommavongsy

“To be the first-generation of my family to go to college means something great to me, it’s an opportunity I’m blessed with and I know I can’t waste it.” – Aldo Trejo

Photo curtesy of Aldo Trejo
Leave a Comment
Donate to Vanguard

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of North Georgia. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Vanguard

Comments (0)

All Vanguard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
First-Generation Students at UNG Share Their Experience