As a low-income and undocumented student, pursuing a higher education was not something I considered. In my senior year, all I worried about was passing my classes, Dragon Boat and helping my mother at home. It was not until late September when my homeroom teacher started talking about college applications, personal statements, financial aid, and scholarships. As a first generation student, I did not understand any of these terms, until Kate Levitt, a former ASAP staff explained to me.
Still, the most important question was in the back of my head, “If I decide to pursue a higher education how am I supposed to pay for it?” My parents could not afford to pay for my college, and I could not take loans. That is when Kate gave me hope and encouraged me to apply for colleges. Kate told me that regardless of my status I could get accepted into colleges and better yet obtain financial aid. At this moment I realized I wanted to become a college advisor for low income, undocumented, and minority students.
Once I started my first year at San Francisco State, I had the great opportunity to be part of Metro College Success Program and the Educational Opportunity Program. The Metro program helped me the first two years to pick the right classes and provided me with tutoring. Even though these programs offer excellent academic support, they tend to overlook the fact that first-generation students have no idea of what is going on. As a result, they feel alone, and often depressed. Some do not have anyone or are afraid to talk to someone about their feelings that as a result, they end up dropping out of school.
At some point I was in this position, I felt overwhelmed with school work, and sometimes I did not quite understand what the assignment was, but I was too scared to ask my professor for help. I was afraid they would tell me “You are a college student, you should know what you are doing!” I made up so many scenarios in my head of how my life would be if I dropped out. I stop for a minute, and realized that I had to put myself together because I could not throw away all my hard work, and most importantly not let my parents down.
My college experience and my college peers have inspired me even more to pursue a career as a college advisor. Therefore, as a College Success Advisor here at ASAP, I advise students to keep in touch with their loved ones, friends or anyone whom they can talk whenever when they are feeling down. I know from experience how hard is to open up to someone and talk about our problems, but it is important for all of us to take care of our mental health. Sometimes we overlook our mental health state because we do not want to look weak or because we do not want others to worry. However, all college students need to put as much attention to their mental health as they do with their academics.
Joselin is one of ASAP’s College Success Advisors, advising seniors one on one with the entire college application process. She graduated Mission High School in 2013, is a Promise Scholar, and is in her final semester at SF State.
Note: ASAP at Mission High School (formerly Athletics Scholars Advancement Program) merged with Mission Graduates in July 2020. This article has been transferred to Mission Graduates’ website for archival purposes and reflects the work, vision, and stories of ASAP staff and students at the time of publication.