How it Feels to be the First to Go to College

There’s this pressure that weighs on my shoulders every time a family event comes up. It’s hard to read how I feel; excited, anxious, or nervous… annoyed maybe. Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of being the first young person in my generation in the family to attend college. Let’s just say, I was completely shocked when once told everyone gasped and grew extremely excited. It was as if I’d been nominated on the Oscars or something. The spotlight made me smile so hard my cheeks began to burn and my thoughts began to jumble all over the place. Eventually, I’d overcome the wave of emotions and find myself explaining the college life, my specific goals in the major I’ve chosen, as well as my future plans. When I’m alone away from the flood of questions and the reminder of how I need to stay focused and make the family proud, something scary happens. Doubt crawls into my veins to plague my entire body until my soul is consumed and I’m left in the dark wondering how I failed. But I’m young, still full of life and mystery, still holding a basket full of blessings that I cannot see right now. Though my family’s encouragements and reminders are good natured, it worries me at times making me think I will not succeed. As long as I have breath in my body I will make everyone proud. I will be a leader.

Out of all my cousins both male and female, I am the only one to attend college. Most of the women became hair stylist and most of the men became mechanics- both falling under trade. But in my family college is another level. A level where you’re showing everyone I am strong and will not stop where I feel comfortable, for it is those uncomfortable and hard times when you finally realize who you are and what you are made of. So when everything was made official and CCBC Essex was waiting for my arrival, I knew this was only the beginning of not just my life but the life of my family’s as well, because I represent them. I am looked up too. I have all eyes on me, my younger sisters and my younger cousins. My life right now is an example. I must lead the way. Encourage, support, teach, and guide, for why waste my knowledge and experience by keeping my mouth shut? Being the first is not too bad, I finally realized after one of my sister graduated high school and received a full scholarship to McDaniel. When Autumn hugged me and said, “Thank you, Quita for all of your help,” I was introduced to a new feeling. Now I know how my parents felt (who too didn’t go to college) when I graduated and went to college. A long sigh, some shed tears to a reassurance that I have done a great job in being a first in my family.

written by LeQuita C. Harrison

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