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First Generation Student Experience

Isabella Nuno

My name is Isabella Nuño, and I am a first-generation college student from Chicago, IL. I am currently a sophomore pursuing a double major in Psychology and Communications. As a first-generation student, I was often afraid and confused throughout the college application process and choosing the right college for me. 

Since my family didn’t understand the whole process, it was often stressful and at sometimes frustrating. I knew Lake Forest College was the right fit for me because of all the opportunities that were available to help all students. From tutoring to the writing center, I knew I would be supported. There were also specific programs for first-generation students, such as Forester First. I was in this program and had the opportunity to meet other students who were also first-generation and were going through the same feelings as me. It was a space for us to come together and talk. We were also paired with an upper-class mentor who would eat lunch with us and was there to answer any of our questions. I really enjoyed this program and was able to learn about time management and how to speak to professors if we ever confused on the material. Orientation week also helped me meet other people right away and get a feel for campus before classes began! I am still friends with people in my group!

I knew Lake Forest College was the right fit for me because of all the opportunities that were available to help all students. From tutoring to the writing center, I knew I would be supported. There were also specific programs for first-generation students, such as Forester First. I was in this program and had the opportunity to meet other students who were also first-generation and were going through the same feelings as me. It was a space for us to come together and talk.

The hardest part of my college transition had to be being away from my family. As the oldest of two younger sisters, it was difficult for me to miss out on things such as birthdays or small holidays. While Lake Forest is not too far from Chicago, and I would try to visit home when I could, I wasn’t always able to. My sisters were not able to understand why I was away or what college meant for all of us. Whenever I missed home, I would try to call and talk to them. It also helped to remember that I am not attending college just for me. While it sometimes can be a lot of pressure to be a first-generation student because many of us are here for us and for our families to have a different life than before, it is also grounding for me and helped me get through those moments when I was struggling to finish a paper, for instance. This has gotten easier with time.

My biggest advice for first- generation students is to not give up when it seems difficult. I would also advise students to take advantage of the many resources available at Lake Forest College. You have every right to enjoy your college experience even if you are here for both yourself and your family.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have and can’t wait to help you transition to life as a Forester. You can email me at nunoim@mx.lakeforest.edu.

Isabella is Co-President of To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA)

Isabella Nuno

Isabella is also Co-President of Latinos Unidos