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What is a First-Gen student?

First-generation students are defined as those students that come from families where their parents or guardians did not complete a four-year college degree.


Meet our "First Gen" Ambassadors

Pamela Meneses

Pamela Meneses

"What has it mean to be a first-generation student at Purdue?"

To be a first-generation student at Purdue means experiencing college life through a whole new lens. It means having to learn how to navigate the balance between being a student and a young adult. It means coming with no expectations, due to not having someone who could tell me about their college experience, about classes, or even what office hours were. It means that I got to experience college through my own perspective and experiences. Overall, being a student in higher education means everything, not just to me, but to my family members, especially my parents. Being a first-generation student means that I get to represent people with similar backgrounds and experiences and let them know it is possible to succeed, and that is the most important thing that I've gained. 

"Words of advice for other first-generation students?"

Some advice that I would give other first-generation students is to just let go of all the expectations, take a breath, and just enjoy your time as a student. I know how much pressure it can be, when you're the first. You just have to be kind to yourself and know that it is a learning curve, but you will soon understand how to navigate college life. From one first-generation to another, you got this!

Shye Robinson

Shye Robinson

As a first-generation college student at Purdue, I've embraced my Liberal Arts education despite being in a STEM-focused environment. With financial aid support, I pursued majors in Political Science and Brain and Behavioral Science, aiming to impact underserved communities. Being among the 8% in the College of Liberal Arts, I found a close-knit community that enhanced my learning experience.

At Purdue, I engaged in various leadership roles and global experiences. I led Roundtable Politics, a nonprofit promoting civil discourse on political topics. Additionally, I participated in Pi Sigma Alpha, a Political Science honor society, and served as a Senator in Purdue Student Government. I also co-founded the Degree+ Student Association, fostering interdisciplinary learning and community building.

My advice to prospective students, especially fellow first-gen students, is to seize every opportunity, grow your network, and seek mentorship. Purdue offers resources to ease the transition, and having a mentor can provide valuable guidance. Try your best, but avoid overextending yourself. Embrace the uncertainty, rely on your support network, and make the most of your college journey.
Jaime Del Real

Jaime Del Real

I am a senior majoring in law and society with a minor in communications. I was born in Chicago, IL and made the move to Lafayette when I was 5. My parents did not get the opportunity to go to college, yet they have been my biggest role models. Their encouragement and support have been a major influence in my academic career. After graduating from high school, I enrolled at Ivy Tech and got an associate degree in criminal justice. I transferred to Purdue in the spring of 2022. During my last semester at Ivy Tech and my first semester at Purdue, I was involved in the Avanzando Through College Program, which helped me ease the transition between community college and a university. I met many individuals who share the characteristic of being a first-generation college student and this experience was eye-opening. I also got the opportunity to be a Boiler Mentor for the College of Liberal Arts. Being in that role allowed me to share my experiences and help two individuals navigate their first year of college. As graduation approaches, it feels bittersweet, but I am excited to commence a new journey!


Transferring to Purdue was an experience I will be forever grateful for. I transferred knowing I had numerous resources available to me. One of these resources being the Latino Cultural Center. The Latino Cultural Center is a rich environment where numerous Latinx students attend to make community and share experiences. One of the lessons that I have learned from being around many talented individuals is the importance of resume building and professional experience. I have gone through college focusing on obtaining the best grades I can, but not realizing the importance of building yourself as a professional as well. Internships are a common way to meet new people and also get a sense of the professional world. Knowing the importance of professional experience now, I would definitely have strived to obtain a summer internship sooner. The most memorable type of experience on campus has been going to office hours with my professors. There was a moment in time when I did not know what office hours meant, but when I found myself struggling in a statistics course, my professor had no problem helping me. I grew to feel more comfortable in the classroom by participating and asking questions. Apart from the class subject, I became more knowledgeable on what the process entails in obtaining a PhD. My professors and classmates have inspired me to practice excellence and to always value the learning experience.