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The environment one grows up in has the ability to impact their perspective on education. Education in the rising economy of America is often taken for granted because it is perceived as the social norm. However, as America is slowly becoming a country of immigrants, the perspective of education is starting to shift within today`s population of millennials. As a firstgeneration college student in America, I have grown to value my education because I have witnessed the lack of education in my community. Growing up in Pittsburg, California and having two parents who grew up in poverty in the Philippines has forced me to accept life`s harsh realities, which pushed me to take advantage of the opportunities presented towards me.

While growing up in Pittsburg, I began to realize obtaining an education was not seen as an option for everyone who wanted to pursue one. I grew up and currently live in a community of underrepresented minorities who are part of the lower class and lower middle class. Through first-hand experience, I have witnessed the difficulty of breaking the cycle of poverty when one does not have a higher education to lean on. It is apparent the minimum wage is not enough to financially support a family. Therefore, people in my community tend to drop out of school due to financial circumstances. In addition, both of my parents grew up in poverty in the Philippines and they did not have the opportunity to pursue a higher education either. Fortunately, they were able to immigrate to America in hopes of new opportunities and to find their own version of The American Dream. My parents have made sacrifices to give me a better life and provide me with opportunities they never had when they were growing up.

The culture and environment I grew up in motivates me to take advantage of my higher education. As a first-generation and low-income college student at Saint Mary`s College of California, graduating from college and becoming a first-generation professional has always been a life goal I have constantly been striving to achieve. As a Justice, Community and Leadership major and a Law and Society minor, I have developed a passion for supporting and empowering underrepresented individuals. My desire to work with and assist minorities is a result of my own identity as a first-generation and low-income Asian-American college student in America. As a first-generation professional, one of the leadership positions I have held within the past academic school year was being a Peer Mentor for my college`s High Potential Program. The High Potential Program is a program that supports first-generation and/or low-income college students academically, psychologically, personally and professionally. As a Peer Mentor, I met with a caseload of six first-year mentees on a monthly basis and I helped set them up for success through one-on-one support and by using strength-based approaches. Through my leadership and this program`s guidance, we were able to empower them and help them transition into their first year of college.

As a first-generation professional, my plan is to find a job where I will be able to help minority communities by giving them the resources they need to be empowered and successful. In addition, I believe in the power of narratives. Therefore, I hope to share my narrative as an Asian-American first-generation college student so I can impact the lives of other minorities and show them success is possible for underrepresented individuals. I intend to use my education to impact the lives around me and leave my mark in this world and I plan to do so by making a difference.

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