Higher education can be the key to a better and more stable future for many first-generation students at Salt Lake Community College.
Those who become the first in their family to attend college see the career benefits of having a degree and how it can better their lives.
“My mom was a single parent who struggled to make ends meet and lived [paycheck to paycheck],” says SLCC sophomore TaCara DeTevis. “I felt like going to college would show appreciation for the amount of effort my mom made and sacrifice that she made in order to raise my little brother and me.
“It is also really important to me that I am financially well-off enough that I can take care of my mom, since she works a hard-labored job and does not have the means for a good retirement.”
A time for self-discovery
First-generation college students feel like they are making a difference in their family and setting an example for younger generations. Earning a degree also helps these students become more marketable when applying for jobs.
But college doesn’t just give students a place to learn more about the world around them — it gives them a place to learn more about themselves.
“Going to college has helped me out a ton by letting me gain experience with my job. I was allowed to shadow a position I wanted to apply for as soon as I graduated,” says SLCC freshman Kevin Claiborne. “Since the shadowing I realized that I am no longer interested in that position and decided to go a different route. My plan now is to pursue a career where I can work with people and hope to make a difference in the community.”
Overcoming financial hurdles
Being a first-generation college student can be difficult, especially for those who must pay their own way.
According to the Pell Institute, 54 percent of first-generation college students were found to be financially on their own, while only 27 percent of students who were not first generation had support.
In spite of financial and other difficulties, a college degree can be the catalyst for many first-generation students to improve their lives and create a better future for generations to come.