College is a time of learning and growth, and everyone’s journey is different. Do what feels right to you. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable because there is power in your story.
Sally Pham (Undergraduate Student)
Share Your Story
I am not only a first generation college student, but I was also the first graduate high school. My parents are from the central Vietnam and grew up in post-civil war times. It was difficult to survive in the countryside, let alone thrive. My dad was one of the hundreds of thousands of boat people, a term coined for refugees who fled the country by boat in hopes for a better life. Education was a luxury that my parents could never afford. Their story motivated me to take advantage of all and any the opportunities I was given as an American. However, this motivation and drive did not prepare me for what I was to face at U-M. My undergraduate experience was been incredibly turbulent with what seemed like constant struggle, but I would not change a single thing. I have learned so much about myself and the world in my time here. There were many moments where I felt so defeated, but I’m happy to share that it all worked out. I never thought I’d graduate, let alone find what my interests are, but here I am in my last semester with a near dream job in hand. This would not be possible without the helping hand of dozens of people each step of the way. I am so thankful for all those who took a chance on me and had faith that I would make it through. We truly are the leaders and the best, go blue!
Your advice for other First-Gen students
U-M is difficult, for everyone. Lean into those difficult experiences. College is a time of learning and growth, and everyone’s journey is different. Do what feels right to you. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable because there is power in your story. You deserve to be here. It can feel like you’re the only one struggling, but I promise you that is statistically impossible given the size of U-M. It is so easy to fall behind and get lost here, but there are resources for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The university wants you to succeed. Taking advantage of all of the resources that U-M offers has been my saving grace during the hardest moments of my undergraduate experience.