College was never something expected or discussed in my family. Halfway through my high school senior year, a high school guidance counselor asked if I had ever considered going to college. I was surprised by this question, but it was the one moment that changed the rest of my life. Her question indicated that someone believed in me and that I could do better. She helped me get into a local two-year college, from which I entered a four-year college.
I then went on to earn my master's degree and then my dream job with a major global consulting and technology firm. But during college, I realized how unprepared I was for the experience. My family could not relate to what I was experiencing. I did not know to seek out the extra assistance I needed. I did not understand the benefits that come from getting involved on campus in extra-curricular activities (i.e., clubs, student organizations, etc.). So, I did not get involved and struggled through on my own. It was afterwards that I realized how much I had missed out on during my undergraduate college experience. My key message to all first-generation college students is to always seek out assistance, mentors and advice and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to challenge and stretch yourself and grow as a person.