James Christian Flores Da

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First-generation students, who don't have a family history of higher education, are a group that makes 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.

James Christian Flores Da, UW Tacoma first-generation student.What does being First Gen mean to you?
To be First Gen means to pioneer the journey of higher education for my family. It means to persevere and exert resilience when I feel defeated. It means to achieve excellence in hopes that I can inspire my younger siblings to achieve great heights. It means to educate, mentor and foster new opportunities within the family. Being a first-generation student not only means bettering myself, it means bettering my family by introducing new ventures that we were not aware of before I was in college.

What challenges have you experienced?
It is challenging to balance finances, support my family and myself, and excel in school while being a student leader. I find the common denominator between my family and my professors is the lack of understanding of what goes through the mind of a First Gen student. They feel as if my hardships are just excuses—not even considering my experience of “imposter syndrome.”

What strengths do you draw upon to persist?
Acknowledging that I have the privilege to attend a high-ranking university in the United States is what motivates me to continue, as my parents and generations before them were not so fortunate to have this opportunity. It’s knowing that this chance, no matter how challenging it may be at times, is and will continue to be beneficial for myself and my family for generations to come, so that my future children will not have to be lost throughout this process.

Who supports you?
I find support from my fellow first-generation peers and friends as we can relate to the same struggles. It is refreshing to be able to speak about our experiences without fear of judgment or minimization.

What’s your major?
My major is social welfare. I am in the Global Honors program and serve on the ASUWT Senate and as the First Gen Fellows Leadership Development Coordinator.

What advice do you have for other First Generation UWT students?
Take advantage of all the opportunities that are extended to you! Do more than just going to class, as the experiences outside of the classroom can help you persist, support you, and be a source of happiness when your classes become overwhelming.

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Written: 
June 5, 2018