Diana Algomeda-Villada

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First-generation students, who don't have a family history of higher education, are a group that make UW Tacoma a very special place. Read their stories as they tell, in their own words, about the challenges they overcame on their path to success.

Diana Algomeda-Villada, UW Tacoma first-generation studentI was born in Mexico and moved to the United States when I was ten years old. It was very hard to learn English and I felt a lot of pressure to learn quickly because my family needed me to translate. I never really dreamed about going to college at all because no one in my family was able to attend and so I had no role models, but that’s not their fault.  My mom encouraged me to do my best in school. I saw my cousins making different choices and the people around me weren’t thinking about college, either. But I knew I had to find a way to make my family proud. That’s why they came to America.

Yet I didn’t know how to get serious about school or what an education could mean for me. My parents had to work two jobs to support the family so my role was to help take of my younger brothers and sisters. I couldn’t stay late in school to get help or participate in other activities that might have prepared me for college. Thanks to AVID, a college readiness and success program, I learned how to set goals and choose the right classes. I felt like I had a reason for getting my education and decided to make an effort. Also I really wanted to be a role model for my younger siblings. Now I’m proud to say I’m a student at UW Tacoma.

I was really excited to start my freshmen year but I was very afraid to get involved. Also it has been hard to focus only on school because I have to work to help support my family. My parents work very hard but they are vulnerable; when my mom got into an accident, I needed to be there for her. That made it hard to manage my time and keep up with school work. My family is my priority but I’m still dedicated to getting a college degree.

As I approach my second year, I feel like I live in two worlds. I’m learning how to be a successful college student, but I don’t want that to change my core identity and who I am and where I come from.

If I had advice for other first-gen students, I think I would tell them not to give up and to keep trying because the hard work is worth it. I probably could be having more “fun” now if I was just working and hanging out with friends but I’m starting to see that college is giving me the opportunity to do things I would never have imagined. I know I can achieve more than I thought and that’s what is keeping me going. I also know that by making the most of this college opportunity, I’m honoring my parents and the sacrifices they made.

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Written: 
March 23, 2017