By Flor Selena C., Dream Project Scholar, Lafayette Class of 2022
If there is one thing I learned from my first semester is to be patient. My first semester in college was a roller coaster of emotions. From orientation, to my first day of classes, to homesickness, to eating burnt and uncooked rice (It was a traumatizing experience), to learning how to be patient and taking a step back, to advocating for myself, and finally – to finishing my first semester of college, I have reached a new milestone in my life.
It still has yet to hit me that I went through this amazing ride where I met so many people who taught me so many things. I have even met friends who I have chosen to be my future suite mates for sophomore year. I learned to balance my school and social life. Most importantly, I have learned to be patient and take in the bigger picture.
In high school, I was always one to rush to finish things and move on to the next big thing. At Lafayette, I forced myself to slow down. The reason why I say this is because I felt frustrated at the beginning of the semester. I was confronted with certain situations in which certain staff and faculty members did not know how to help me find the solution to my problem because I was a DACA recipient. I was confused as to why they could not help me out, given the fact they were working at an institution that focused on education. I felt as if I was in this alone and that it was my job to educate people and keep advocating for immigrant rights.
Looking back at my summer, however, I remembered that I was not in this alone. I have a support system everywhere I go. The Scholars Summit 2018 provided me and others with an open space to talk about our goals, our worries, and our experiences. It presented us with the first step to navigating life in college as both DACA recipients and undocumented students. We were encouraged to embrace our experiences and learn to advocate for ourselves – something I always aspire to do. The big takeaway I got from the summit, moreover, was there would always be someone to help us out, no matter what.
For this reason, I continued to look for answers to my questions, and was talking with different people from the Dream Project and different departments at Lafayette, until someone from Lafayette stopped me and told me to slow down. She reminded me that I was not alone in this fight. There were people on campus who were working on a plan towards ensuring the situations that I went through were not repeated with any other student. On top of that, it was only my first semester as a freshman. Of course, I still continue to advocate for myself and other undocumented immigrants and DACA recipients, but I had to take a step back too. College is not like high school and it was going to be a significantly different experience.
My second semester is on its way and I have managed to create a balance between my social life, academics, activism, and self-care. I now know who I can reach out to and talk with in regards to creating a space where undocumented immigrants, DACA recipients, and allies can come together in solidarity. There is much work to be done at Lafayette College, but with time and hard work, I believe that we will accomplish many of our goals in 2019 and beyond.