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Kidist Ashami – Perspective of a First-Generation Student

By Elshaday Yilma

How prepared an individual is prior to arriving on campus dictates his or her college experience. Some students with parents who attended college have the added advantage of their parent’s support and guidance in navigating through college. However, first-generation college students are faced with the challenge of going through the college application process, admission and college experience first hand. These students are also expected to compete at the same level as other students. The Pinnacle had the opportunity to interview Kidist Ashami, ‘17, a Biology major, is the first in her family to graduate from high school, and now will be graduating from college in a May. Ashami shared helpful tips with students.

Kidist/The Pinnacle

Pinnacle: What can students do if they feel out of place?
Ashami: They should find what makes them comfortable. Step out of your comfort zone to find something that will make you feel a part of something bigger than yourself.
You will be introduced to places outside your comfort zone, and you’ll be surprised when one of these places becomes your home.

Pinnacle: What do students need to know about managing finances?
Ashami: How you manage your finances is very crucial to your future because the goal is to graduate without debt. You should learn how to prioritize your expenses. Spend your money based on need instead of want. Don’t frequent to restaurants because you want to avoid food service. You have to realize that you will be covering your expenses for the next four years; therefore, reach out to the resources on campus such as financial aid. You can also write your expenses down and stick to it.

Pinnacle: What can students do when family members and friends do not understand their struggles as a first-gen student?
Ashami: This is going to happen a lot. Communication is very important. Be open and willing to explain to your parents. It might also take extra work to prove to them that college is worthwhile. Help them understand by talking to them and by doing well. Your grades might speak to them better than your words. You should always keep trying.

Pinnacle:  What should students do if they get to college and feel unprepared?
Ashami: You didn’t have any preparation as to what college preparation is like. Be patient with yourself. You should also reach out to your resources on campus such as the writing center, student chaplains, and the counseling center.

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