University Culture

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Jennifer Herrera

Major: Sociology
Graduation Date: Spring, 2020
Career Plans: Social Work

As a first-generation student I always knew I had to go to college but I didn't know exactly what to do to get there. Ever since I was little my parents told me I had to go to a four-year university after high school. My parents, and even I as a senior in high school, had no idea what the college application process was or what I needed to apply for financial aid, or how to stay on track will all the important deadlines. At the time, my sister was attending Humboldt State University and was doing great, but she was so far and we had different schedules so it was difficult to ask her my questions or tell her the problems I was having. When I thought about how difficult it must've been for her being the oldest to go straight to a four-year college, I felt I had more pressure to go because if she was able to do it on her own then there was no reason why I shouldn't be able to do it also. That's when I decided I was going to try to do it all myself. My friends and I tried to go to the College Center at our high school but they assumed I knew everything and didn't provide the help I needed. Even when I asked questions they wouldn’t take the time to explain to where I fully understood or sometimes completely disregarded my questions. I went online and tried to ask my friends until I thought I knew what I was doing. Throughout the process I had the worry about not being able to attend college because I might have missed a deadline or not completed a requirement. Luckily, I was able to find all the information I needed online and on time to apply to universities and financial aid.

Ever since I learned about CSU Channel Islands (CI), it was the school I wanted to attend. The school is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS) which makes me feel at home and a lot more comfortable and accepted. That sense of acceptance and comfortability has made me a more successful student at CI because I feel more comfortable asking my professors questions during class and going to their office hour whenever I need that extra help. I chose Sociology as my major because I want to become a Social Worker.

I am working for University Culture because I know many first-generation students like myself have no idea what the application process is like and feel lost throughout the entire process. I want to be able to share my experience and make sure people understand that if they really want to go to college, there are ways to find all the information they need and there are people who are always willing to help.