“If others can do it, you can too” – those words were continuously uttered by my father while I was growing up. With that foundation, I never doubted whether I could do anything – the most pressing thought was how.
The key to turning that statement into a reality and creating a better life was simply to obtain an education. I was taught that an education was THE tool that could not only teach me technical skills but would lay a foundation for new ideas, introduce me to extraordinary individuals and provide an environment to experiment. These factors are what drives me to give back to my university. With one letter and the generosity of supporters of the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars, I was able to attend the University of Florida to unlock a better future.
The most valuable lessons I’ve learned were not through the formulas of a textbook but through the exposure to new experiences and connection to others. Attending college allowed a first-generation student like myself to gain connections to those I would never have had the opportunity of meeting in the confines of my circumstances. The iteration of exploring new ideas and meeting different individuals, outlined a community that would shape my future. It gave me mentors who had insights to experiences that my immigrant parents did not know, friends that became a second family and ideas that spurred a passion to
create change through business. In essence, I give back so that my university can continue to foster this community. It is my hope that other first-generation students find a community in which they can connect to and be inspired throughout their college career and onwards.
Having the opportunity to advance my studies and passions, reminds me that there are countless others with similar magnitudes of ambitions and goals. The untapped potential of other first-generation students creates a sense of accountability to pay it forward. This can create a domino effect, inspiring others to also give back. But most importantly, paying it forward is my small gesture to let those in similar situations know that there is someone who believes that they can have a brighter future than their current circumstance.
Education is and will always be a cause that I believe all students should have the opportunity for. It allows first-generation students to rise to new heights and to dream boldly.
My life would not be the same without it. In essence, this is why I give back:
- I give back because my university gave me a community to connect to.
- I give back to pay it forward.
- I give back to let all first-generation students know that there is always someone who believes that they too, can do anything.