FirstGen Grad

An Opportunity to Change My Reality

September 10, 2020
Jessica Bueno '20, Animal Science 

By Jessica Bueno with Hailey Chatterton

I feel very blessed right now. 

Maybe that’s an unusual statement for 2020, but looking at the bigger picture, I have a lot to be grateful for. Not only did I graduate from my dream college, but I have a new goal and a plan I’m proud of, and I’ve had some memorable experiences along the way. 

My Name is Wilbert: A Thank You Letter

September 04, 2020
Wilbert De Leon '20  B.A. Communication, B.A. Economics - Behavior and Strategy Emphasis

This stole is a symbol of my perseverance, grit, and determination to meet my goals — an artifact to display on my wall for years to look at and tell myself, "I did that." 

My first-gen story does not start with me. It starts with my parents.

Researching Workers' Rights in Vietnam: My Past and Future Come Together

July 30, 2020
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.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Jenny Zavala

June 04, 2019
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.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Chelsea Blankenship

June 04, 2019
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.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Roseanne Gorelik

May 31, 2019
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.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Yilda Korpela

May 31, 2019
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.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Kathy Pham

May 31, 2019
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.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Carmen Torres Antonio

May 31, 2019
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.

First-Gen Stole Contest: Sandra Vivian-Calderon

May 28, 2019
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.