Eric Thai '20 discovers his academic pathway and his family history converge in research.
“What is a Ph.D.?” My immigrant father asked.
He was understandably concerned about my plans to spend another 4-5 years pursuing another degree.
“A Ph.D. is a degree that prepares me to ask questions and contribute knowledge to the world.”
Seeing how stumped my dad was, I pulled out a pen and paper and started drawing concentric circles representing expanding bands of knowledge, with a Ph.D. as a mountain rising on the outer layer – and at its peak, an academic career.
Ten years ago I arrived alone in the US with nothing but a dream. Now I am proud to call myself a scientist, a PhD student, and a mentor. My family, while loving and supportive, never imagined that I would become a scientist. To be honest, neither did I.
The two hands represent my parents, and the rag being twisted holds everything that represents my parents such as their hardships, sacrifices, and dreams. By twisting the rag, both hands “shower” me with love, support and most important of all, an opportunity. At the bottom is a representation of me in my graduation gown holding my diploma while I receive my parents loving gifts which all contribute to my growth of who I am today.
Being a first-gen student comes with its challenges, but for Chelsea Blankenship, the journey had bittersweet movements, where she learned to find beauty in darkness. Through her poem, simple talk, Chelsea hopes to help other students understand that they are capable to overcome trauma and that they are beautiful being.
As the daughter of two immigrants, Roseanne Gorelik and her family was ecstatic for her to have the opportunity to attend UC Davis, and to now see her graduate, it is a dream come true for the family. Through her written poem: Us: In Poems, Roseanne describes her powerful relationship with her family and how her journey through college, was not just for her, but for her family as well.
From a hardworking agricultural family in the Central Valley, first-generation graduate Yilda arrived in Davis prepared to dedicate herself to her studies in order to succeed not just for herself, but her father as well.
Kathy Pham is a queer, first-generation college student who was raised by two Vietnamese refugees. Kathy was very involved in different organizations throughout her four years at UC Davis. Read her powerful poem from our First-Generation Grad Stole Contest.
Being a First-Gen student can mean many things. Struggle, accomplishment, and family are just some of the ways Carmen Torres Antonio described this identity and what being a first-generation graduate means to her.
Stefany grew up in Sacramento, California where she is the oldest of three and the daughter of Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants. Stefany decided she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field when her brother was diagnosed with Leukemia shortly after she started community college. When she found out about the affiliation UC Davis has with the hospital and the student-run clinics, she realized she couldn’t wait to be an Aggie!
Family can be an important part of a students journey through higher education, and for Sandra Vivian-Calderon, her family is the reason she sees graduating as a symbol of strength, and that her parents’ sacrifices, as well as her own, are worth it.
My ancestors originated from China, but during the Japanese invasion, my family moved to Vietnam hoping to live a better life. To avoid the Vietnam war, they sought refuge in Hong Kong before finally taking a boat to San Francisco, where my family settled. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, my family split. Half of them stayed in SF, and others migrated to Oakland, where I grew up.
Diana is a first-year transfer, first generation student studying Communication at UC Davis. She is the first in her family to attend a four-year university. She wants to make her family proud and is grateful to her parents for all of their sacrifices. She celebrates her education as not just hers but rather the efforts made by her parents, and she dedicates her hard work to them.
In search of a better life in the United States, Joyce and her family immigrated from Mexico when she was almost two years old. Her background has helped her stay motivated and achieve many accomplishments in college. After she graduates, she hope to inspire many and provide other first-generation students support.