By: Cassandra Mendoza, College Bridge Program Tutor, UC Work Study Student
The problem with being the first is that it is never quite clear where it is you are supposed to go. It was a common occurrence in the olden days of pioneers to become lost, never to be seen or heard from again. It wasn’t very hard to do since none of them had any idea where they were going; there wasn’t a map for where they were heading. While those days of old are long past us there are still pioneers among us; just as lost and confused as the pioneers before. Being a first generation student, I grew up being one of those pioneers; lost and confused. No one gave me a road map on how to get to college because no one in my family had ever been there before. I knew I was not the only one out there but that was a hard notion to shake when you went through college tours and did not understand an inkling of the logistics that kept college life running. Tuition, housing, FAFSA, and Federal Loans were as alien to me as Mayan script is to any modern American. There were many times within this road trip that I could have taken a wrong turn and become lost, never to be seen again, but thankfully I found an organization that helped me create my own map towards college success. I am far from finishing but I am nowhere close to being lost. In hindsight, finding that organization was the best possible thing this pioneer could have discovered.
With a clearer view of the road ahead, I wanted to help others that were lost on their own expedition. Education Matters is an organization that has simultaneously inspired and motivated me to help other pioneers with their own map through the college experience. With an incentive akin to the organization that helped me, Education Matters helps first generation students understand those confusing logistics like the tuition and FAFSA that once befuddled me. They’re making sure that those first generation students won’t make the mistake of taking a wrong turn. So while many of these new pioneers have no idea on where they need to go, Education Matters is leading them the way that those students want to be. As for this pioneer, being able to be a part of that process is what inspires me most each and every day.