As a first generation student, you might feel at a disadvantage to the rest of your peers. However, a first generation student is just a label. You are the only person that can define your experiences, so don’t let that label stop you from seeking options and opportunities. Ever since I arrived to Cornell, I wanted to study abroad, be pre-med and major in plant sciences. I was following everything I thought I needed to do in order to become a naturopathic doctor. Since I had this mentality, I attended the meetings that discussed studying abroad. It was certainly possible to study abroad. My plan was to study for a summer or semester. To prepare myself, I needed to plan ahead the following semesters. Financially, studying abroad is not out reachable during a semester because there are no further charges than the original tuition payment.
The real problem here was me. I was reaching out and preparing my future the way I thought needed to be done. Still, I didn’t stop to focus on myself. I closed my mind to other possibilities and limited my time to studying, going to office hours, and going to meetings with my academic and pre-med advisor. Meanwhile, I was slowly breaking down spiritually, emotionally and mentally. By the end of the second semester, one of my professors had recommended me to study abroad through CELA Belize because an ethnobotany course was offered. At the time, that course was the only one that sparked my interest and I decided to take a class that I actually enjoyed. Therefore, I applied to a grant and started working, so I could raise enough money for the summer. Thankfully, I got the grant and was able to study in Belize. Belize is certainly an unforgettable magical place. It was there that I learned about something I was passionate about. I enjoyed being surrounded by the people, the food, the culture, fauna and flora. So far, there has not been anything I have seen that is more beautiful than Belize. This experience taught me to keep an open mind and always reach out and network because it is primarily by networking that you can achieve your goals. I am not lying when I say that there are people who want to help you. If there is someone that doesn’t, don’t take it too personal. Listen and then move on to a different person, so that you are informed of the vast possibilities you have before choosing a career. Don’t be shy; get out of your comfort zone because that is when your life begins.