Alyssa Konesky is a second-year political science major with minors in German and data science, and a first-generation college student.
Being the first person to graduate from high school in my family was a feat, let alone being the first to go to college. Anxious, I moved to campus unsure of my course workload, if I was going to make any friends and if I was even going to do well in college. Now being in my second year, I am confident that I have found my place at MSU and have been working every day to make campus a better place for all students.
Within my first weeks on campus, I found my friend group who led me to my current position in the Jewish Student Union. They helped me through my first steps of advocacy on campus and have helped me in implementing specific courses on antisemitism in MSU’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training. This also led me to run for a seat in the Associated Students of Michigan State University, or ASMSU, which has allowed me to further my advocacy by providing resources for students that are survivors of domestic violence and advocating for a more accessible campus. These friends became my first support in college. I was able to ask questions about classes, and we were able to help each other through our shared experiences. My scholarship program, Spartan First-Generation Leadership and Innovation Program, or Spartan FLI, has helped me greatly from things like writing emails to professors to preparing for interviews.
Despite having friends that were able to answer my student-related questions, I still didn’t have anywhere to go to with the larger questions. “How does my resume look?” and “What’s a cover letter?” were things I couldn’t necessarily ask other students because they were also thinking the same thing. My friends, however, had their parents to assist them. I didn’t have that luxury, and for much of my first year on campus, I took a shot in the dark when it came to applying for jobs and internships. I felt like I was not qualified for any position I landed, and I definitely did not even feel qualified to be in college.
Finding my community on campus has helped me feel like I have a place at MSU and that I have the power to influence future generations coming to college. Although I still struggle with understanding the professional world, I now have a support system that works with me to thrive and navigate my next steps as a student and advocate.
MSU’s third annual First-Generation Celebration Week is Nov. 7– 11. This is a campus-wide collaborative celebration to advance an asset-based narrative on first-generation student experiences and outcomes at MSU. Learn more at firstgen.msu.edu.