First Generation Students = The Moths of Higher Education

imagesHave you ever questioned the confidence of a moth? Understood the anonymity of their shadows? Me neither, but I do see how my life relates to their lack of “limelight-worthy” adventures. Do not get moths confused with its’ praised relative, the butterfly. Even babies in the womb grow up wishing to be as free as a butterfly, as colorful as its’ wings… but behind every ounce of beauty lies a shadow… an ambitious shadow whose confidence is never questioned because it is “known” to exist through interpersonal communication, community involvement, and social declarations… but what if a shadow had a shadow who was just as shy as the next shadow… and the next. As I rant on with philosophical “know-hows”, I often sit quietly in my occupied room in my parent’s apartment wondering why my shadow casts it’s confidence before the person, in other words, me? My shadow told me a doctorate degree is extremely important and it will guide me there, introduce me to people who will bring support and confidence I’ve never received before, and write my personal statement explaining my aptitude of skills, awards, and knowledge to said program. My confidence, on the other hand, has its’ doubts.

Here’s why:¬†Long story short, I am a first-generation honors graduate from South Carolina. I learn best through behavior modeling and reenactments (by the way this doesn’t work) of someone else’s prized moment. Many people do not understand the lack of confidence that lives in first generation students when they are compared to individuals who have a legacy or timeline of successful entrepreneurs, business people, professional lawyers, and the like. I come from a background where work is praised, but education could be nice. Put yourself in my shoes for a minute, think of it this way: You come home from school eager to share your success with your family, but they do not understand. They say “congratulations” or “I’m so proud of you!” and while this is enough to get you by, is it enough to keep you confident in your talents? That’s where the metaphor of the moth returns… sometimes sharing your story with people who are not equipped to finding your accomplishments a blessing… is a daunting tasks. Don’t get me wrong, my family has been extremely support, well immediate ones I should say, in my education career. Especially my mother… she’s my biggest fan here on earth. I see her smile and I know I’ve accomplished something. But it still leaves my soul on a whim, because my confidence is hidden through layers of shadows and tasks… similar to the moth’s story.

So, I ask you as I begin this journey, a moth in the higher education system, does one ever take the time to truly ask and reflect on the confidence of a moth? Will the moths forever hold a place behind their beloved relatives, the butterfly? My name is Latoya and I am an upcoming doctoral applicant pursuing a degree in Higher Education with emphasis on Student Affairs and Instruction. I am the moth with questionable confidence, but you’ll find out once you decide to continue reading just how butterfly-like I can be… with the moth label of course. Who knows what I will write about, that’s left to the intellection Gallup states as one my top five strengths. But if you are just as eager to follow me on my pursuit of a doctorate degree, I welcome you in my moth-like world. This is what I’d like to call a “confidence-boosting-applicant-inspiring-young-woman” memoir. It will be exciting to have you along!

P/S: Not all of us are clothes-biters or nocturnal nomads… some of us live and work in a professional world where we praise the daylight and shy away from the night… stay tuned, reader… this is going to be a long ride!

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