First-Gen Stole Contest: Carmen Torres Antonio

Carmen Torres Antonio stands in the middle of the walkway at the UC Davis quad area.
Photo: Daniel Oberbauer

Carmen Torres Antonio '19

Chicana and Chicano Studies & Spanish

My name is Carmen and I will be graduating in spring 2019. I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico and moved to San Diego, California when I was five years old. To be a first-generation college student signifies an opportunity that my parents were not able to have growing up. My parents only completed their elementary school education; thus, they wanted a different reality for me. To be a first-generation college student means to navigate new spaces that weren’t made for us. My presence at a higher institution has challenged the deficit thinking and labels that have been imposed on me throughout my schooling. Nevertheless, it is also a constant feeling of the imposter syndrome and of not deserving my accomplishments. Being the first to navigate these spaces and feelings has allowed me to grow into the person I am today. Over the years I have discovered that being a first-generation college student also entails remembering where I come from, what I’ve experienced, and all those who came before me. During difficult times I grounded myself by remembering my family in Oaxaca and San Diego. During difficult times I remembered that this is an opportunity my parents never had and is my way of thanking them for all their hard work and sacrifices. During difficult times I remember the knowledge my parents, experiences outside of schools, and my community has passed down to me hold so much value. These three images taken in Oaxaca are the center of my experience as a first-generation college student. To be the first in my family to attend a four-year university is an academic journey, but it is also about never forgetting where I come from and the sacrifices that have given me the privilege to attain a bachelor’s degree. 

Photo by Carmen Torres Antonio

Photo by Carmen Torres Antonio

Photo by Carmen Torres Antonio