The first-generation experience

College through the eyes of the first students attending college in their family.

Joseph Giddings, Staff Writer

Los Medanos College is home to many different students throughout Contra Costa County, all of which possess their own unique backgrounds as well as challenges and struggles. One type of student in particular may possess experiences that are dissimilar to most: the first-generation college student.  

Throughout the country, first-generation students populate college communities, and the same can be said about LMC.

 Here, first-gen students work hard to support their families both inside and outside of their homes, as they try to provide them with new opportunities, as well as their own future professional careers, and lives. 

“To me, it feels like I’m opening new opportunities for my family as a whole that they didn’t have before. And as well as making a bridge for my younger siblings since I’m the oldest,” said Marcos Arreola, a first-generation student at LMC. 

The college experience and all that it entails is new to the family of a first-generation college student, leaving them with many questions and an overall uncertainty in regard to the pursuit of their academic careers. 

“I never knew I needed a counselor until it was time to graduate. Many first-gen students do this on their own and only meet that counselor that one time to get their paperwork signed. It is amazing to know how many of us feel we must do it all ourselves,” said Anthony Scoggins, LMC Puente English Coordinator and ESL Instructor. 

While confusion may be present within the community, LMC works to aid each of their students through learning communities and programs such as Puente and Umoja, Extended Opportunity Program and Services, Financial Aid, Counseling and Disabled Students Program and Services. 

“The Puente Program has really helped me out with knowing what to do with my classes. And secondly, the DSPS program has really helped me out with some accommodations that I really need,” said Beneranda Lopez-Rios, a first-generation student at LMC who attended the recent “I am the First: College Hour” event. 

Scoggins encourages student involvement with their campus or community and attributes this involvement as a major factor in their overall academic success, along with the friends and peers developed inside and outside of the classroom. 

“Some of the best steps for first-gen students are to take a risk: ask for help from any one and everyone. I never participated in any college events or activities until I reached graduate school. Now, I know it would have been better for me to seek guidance and join in on the events, but I really did not know back then,” said Scoggins. 

While such struggles and challenges presented to first-generation students can feel discouraging or stressful at times, qualities such as resilience and dedication are often crucial in achieving academic goals and ultimately prove to be worth it, providing a better future for the next generation. 

“It does tend to be a very stressful time, but it also has its rewards. But the most important part of it is resilience, you have to keep bouncing back every time something happens…you have to bounce back for others as well, because they depend on you,” said Lopez-Rios.

Like Lopez-Rios, Arreola wishes to encourage his fellow first-generation students in their path towards a life of opportunity and greatness, despite the challenges that life may throw at them. 

“No matter how long it takes you to reach your goal, as long as you reach it, that’s all that really matters.”

Both Lopez-Rios and Arreola wish to transfer to a CSU after their time at LMC, where they will continue their academic careers towards earning a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing.  

Additional information regarding assistance can be obtained at the Student Services Center, as well as the new Student Union building, where they may find some of the on-campus learning communities on the building’s second floor.