First Gen Day panel & student fair


Lily Marmolejo

Host Brittany Lundeen helped organize the first generation day event held on zoom Nov. 8.

Lily Marmolejo, News Editor

First-generation students and teachers all got together on Nov. 8 via zoom to discuss the many resources at Cerritos College that have helped them to further their education. Faculty gave students one-on-one advice during the fair portion of the event.

The event was hosted by second generation graduate transfer councilor Brittany Lundeen. She introduced student panelists, each shared their experiences in college and transfer processes.

“I feel very proud to be the first one in my family to go to university and even though it’s not always easy. I think it’s very nice. It feels good to know that I’m breaking that barrier,” said former transfer student UCLA alumna Pamela Rodriguez Cervantes.

There were representatives from financial aid, counseling, admissions, transfer centers, student health center, student activities and student accessibility services in breakout rooms for students to ask questions.

Accounting and economics transfer student Sandra Abundio shared the importance of knowing your counselors because they help create an educational plan for the next couple years of community college, making sure students don’t miss out on transfer requirements.

“If I need to put a plug right now, student life was definitely my lifeline. I met wonderful individuals that were super ambitious and had so many goals,” said student life and student leadership staff member Diana Madueno.

“I take advantage of everything anyone told me about any resource that I could use and I went for it basically,” said Dr. Veronica Sanchez, faculty member from the psychology department.

Academic counseling through admissions are excellent resources for current Cerritos College Students. They inform students on what courses to take for their major and advise them on current courses creating a timeline for when it is time for them to transfer.

Career counseling is another recommended resource currently located in the multipurpose building. These counselors advise students on career paths and the options available to them once they graduate, helping them plan long term goals, advising students on what they should do in community college and after they transfer.

Another helpful resource at Cerritos College is the scholars honor program, it enables students to work on projects with faculty members and form mentor relationships with instructors.

Stressing the importance of networking in college, instructors strongly advise that students are active on campus and join clubs. Befriending peers can be beneficial to both parties short-term and long-term.

Students and staff spoke on the mental toll being a first generation college attendee and graduate takes on from their family. In Lantix cultures it is customary for young adults to form a family instead of pursuing a career.

Dr. Veronica Sanchez, is currently in the process of getting approval for a course based on health psychology that is going to be called psychology of wellness.

“I’ve learned it’s really important to tell your family about the process that you’re going through so that they can also support you and have a better understanding,” said Stephany Reyes, an elementary teaching and social behavioral sciences major, “obviously it’s hard since they didn’t have the experience, but you should be opened up to to your family and explain [to them], so you can have that support.”

Many first generation students shared similar feelings including imposter syndrome. With the help of mentors, individuals felt that they could overcome the difficulties and insecurities that confronted them.

“I had all these dreams and goals that I wasn’t always 100% sure if I was going to be able to accomplish them,” said Palema Rodriguez Cervantes, “And in those difficult times for me as a student I always knew that I wanted to go far and beyond with my education, especially because no one in my family had ever been that far.”

Students talked about how grateful they are for their mentors but would like for more opportunities to meet them and build a stronger relationship with them. Students also requested for more events to connect with students that have already transferred from Cerritos College.

A student participant advocated for a program for students and mentors so that students have access to individuals who have already experienced what they are currently experiencing in efforts to eliminate imposter syndrome.