Jordan Meza, Class of 2021

First-generation means making it on your own. No help, no history, no understanding. Every next step is a first step, every class and hallmate and afterparty and workplace experience fresh, never-before seen. It means missing out on all the little cues, losing all the little races, never having a gifted edge. Your confidence has to be built, from the ground up, no steel lattice in place. Being first-generation brings a host of expectations and tribulations. I’m a trailblazer, working towards an academic achievement my family had only heard whispers about, at a University they hadn’t dared dream of. My mere existence is something to be celebrated. And the weight of this is enormous. The pressure on an individual who is lighting the way, for their families and friends and themselves, is massive. Mistakes cannot be taken lightly. If I mess up, not only do I fail myself, but I fail all of those supporting me.