First generation college students: the road to a higher education


Maya Morris / Sagamore staff

There are many first generation college students at the high school currently, including students and staff members. Some have immigrant families, while others are going to break a family tradition of not pursuing a higher education.

Maya Morris, Visuals managing editor

Marquis Miller, Dean College

What were you passionate about in high school?

I was passionate about football. I played football since I was seven. When I was younger, it was mainly for fun and practice, but when I got to the high school I knew I had to dedicate myself to my teammates and the season, so I worked out even in my off-season and put forth my best effort.

How has that propelled you forward?

Throughout the football season, my grades were up to par mainly so I could stay on the team. I wouldn’t say I didn’t care about my academics, but when football season wasn’t there, I didn’t need a certain grade point average, so I didn’t have the same structure of my schedule. I know that this upcoming year, playing football in college, will give me that structure for my school work. Then, I can have a GPA to be able to transfer out of Division III since I want to play at a higher level in college.

What will your major in college be?

In college, I’m going to major in business because I like fashion and making it accessible. Fashion, for me, started with Kanye West. When I started listening to Kanye in eighth grade was when my interest was first sparked. From then on, I was watching watching YouTube videos about sewing and other tutorials. As soon as I learned how to sew the summer going into freshman year, I started sewing my own clothes and making my own pieces. I want to go into fashion because it just gives anyone a nice aesthetic. It also allows people to have nice clothes in general, which I think is something everyone should have.


Franny DiRice, Lesley University

What were you passionate about in high school?

Throughout high school, I’ve been involved in the performing arts program. I participated in the freshman play and each year I was a part of the student directed plays. For the past two years, I’ve been writing my own plays for the student directed plays. Last year, I wrote a dark comedy for the show and this year, I made a romantic comedy named “Rom Com.” The performing arts have definitely helped me throughout high school. Sophomore year, I was ready to be done with high school. It’s common on my dad’s side of the family that once we reach high school, we drop out. So that gene, quote unquote, was starting to come through there. However, sophomore year is also when I found out about Student Directed, so that program helped me look forward to being active in school.

What will your major in college be?

Hopefully, I’ll be double majoring in creative writing because of theater and education. Going back to my own education, I want to be one of those teachers that really helps students. One of the things that helped , was a teacher at the high school. His class and his enthusiasm made me want to be like him. We’ve all had teachers that drag on or don’t pay us much time, but he made me wish all teachers could be like him. So I thought, ‘If I could be something like that to help someone like me, that would be life changing.’


Fozan Sadiq, University of Massachusetts Lowell

What were you passionate about in high school?

I was definitely most passionate about my academics and getting good grades. I was motivated by my parents, I always wanted them to look at me as someone who could make it, almost as if I was trying to prove something to them. I tried my hardest to fulfill that to the best that I could in all my classes. I would meet after school with my teachers constantly. In the beginning it was hard, and there were times where it was difficult, but I knew that it was helping me. In the end, I just wanted my parents to be proud of me.

Who or what helped motivate you the most in high school?

My family members were mainly the ones who kept me motivated in school. They pushed me, but I was grateful for that. They would always tell me, ‘You came here very young, and we didn’t get a chance to go to college, so you’ll have to be the one who can prove something.’ That always motivated me to do my best, so I could help out later in life.

Steps to Success High School Adviser Melissa Sirin-Brien

When I was in high school, I was really into criminology and crime. I had a lot of friends who were police officers, and I loved it. There was something about policing that really intrigued me. When I went to college, originally my major was criminology. While I was in college, 9/11 occurred. Because I am a Middle Eastern female and a criminology major, I was being recruited by the FBI and DEA. So, I forgot about being a police officer and started to consider being a  federal agent. However, once I looked at myself I realized I wouldn’t fit that mold.

Then, I got into corrections, which involved interning at prisons. I had an internship, and later a job, working as a drug counselor at an all female prison, but I still felt like something was missing. I started to realize that a lot of the women in prison were there for committing crimes in their teenage years, and they didn’t have positive influences as a teenager. When I was in high school, I loved my teachers, and I really saw the impact they had on me. So I thought, I wonder if there’s a way I can help deter kids from crime by just having a positive role model. That’s when I got into high school teaching.

It was never in my cards to be a teacher, but I took the tests and I was hired as a teacher in a rough neighborhood of Miami. My school was awesome. I still write my students on Mother’s Day because I still consider myself to being a mother to all of them. Then I moved up here, and I’ve been here since. I saw what my parents had to struggle with: not even having a middle school education and having to come to this country. They worked so hard to raise us as children. I’m always working; I never have a summer off. I paid every cent of my college tuition. I don’t have a single loan to this day and didn’t have to struggle financially like my parents did. That’s what we try to do with our students, a lot of whom are first generation college students. We try to help them choose wisely so they don’t graduate with thousands and thousands of dollars of debt.