Ammar Bin Zulqarnain, Class of 2022

Being a first-generation means a lot of things to me, especially when your parents have never been to college. My father served as an army officer in Pakistan and he was recruited right after his High School while my mom did an associate degree from a vocational school. Obviously, there was no one to guide about how to tackle the pace of college life. I fell, I learned and motivated myself to continue my journey. I worked hard and I was able to focus all of my attention on studies. I did well as not only I was able to be in the top 20 students of the country, I also secured admission to Vanderbilt University. For a family like mine, it was a big deal as no one in my family ever went to the USA even. Meanwhile, my parents were proud of me, they were also worried about my expenses. However, my dad told me that I do not have to worry about those expenses. He took a loan to pay for my first year at college

My status as a first-generation student has greatly influenced my time at Vanderbilt. College was not only about academics or extracurriculars but also working from the dining halls to VUIT to support my parents in their contributions towards my college expenses. I was always exhausted. While a lot of people moreover, I had to discover the process of applying for internships all by myself without any guidance or a mentor due to my international status. I struggled to land on any internship in my sophomore year. Right now, I have become self-sufficient to the point that my parents do not have to pay anything for my college. I was scoring a good GPA and was involved in three clubs, having board positions in two.

As a first-generation student, I have found a lot of friends who guided me and told me the do’s and dont’s of the application process. My dance team has been a great family for me during college. They not only supported me academically but also supported me emotionally.