The pressure of a dream: first-generation students reflect on their college journeys

As a first-generation student, Ivan Quintana said he felt immense pressure. He felt the weight of his family’s future on his shoulders and thought he couldn’t make any mistakes. Each step he took felt essential to the next, and he worried any misstep would lead to failure.

Quintana, a senior studying criminology and criminal justice and public service and public policy, said though he was not the first child in his family to attend college, he still felt the immense stress of living out his parents’ dreams of getting a degree.

“(That stress) puts a chip on your shoulder, to give back to the people that invested in you — your family and your community,” he said.

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