Editor’s Note: First-Generation Student Recognition Day is Thursday, Nov. 8. New College of Florida is celebrating first-generation students by telling some of their stories.
Going to college “wasn’t even a question” for Andreina Carrasquero. “My sister wanted to take a year off after high school, and my parents said ‘no,’” recalled the fourth-year New College student. Still, she says her parents were supportive without putting excessive pressure on her to pursue higher education.
“In the types of classes we were in, like AP, everyone wanted to go to college,” said Carrasquero, so her parents didn’t need to pressure her.
Carrasquero may not have lacked motivation to fill out her college applications, but she could have used a little help navigating the process. When she arrived at New College, she realized just how different her application experience had been from those whose family members had attended college.
“We filled out the FAFSA application wrong. There was a lot of crying over the summer. It wasn’t until a few weeks before school started that I got my financial aid straightened out. I didn’t know I had gone through extra humps.”
Once she settled into the sociology department, Carrasquero found supportive faculty who offered guidance and mentorship. Associate Professor of Sociology and Latin America and Caribbean Studies Sarah Hernandez, and Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies Emily Fairchild, helped the first-generation student find her way. Hernandez and Fairchild suggested resources to help Carrasquero excel at New College, and they are preparing her for graduate school by suggesting appropriate programs and organizing a GRE prep group.
Carrasquero believes what students like her need are “mod events that can help different students and are tailored to what different groups need.” She is impressed by the work Assistant Director of Student Success Programs Melissa Doreus, who is herself a first-generation college graduate, is doing at the Office of Student Affairs.
“Part of Melissa’s job is to help first-generation and low-income students. Melissa is a great person,” offers Carrasquero, “and I hope we keep her. The key is having a group of people that is really approachable.”
Carrasquero is an active member of The Queer of Color Critique, a student organization that organizes events about LGBTQ issues.