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March 13, 2024

Student view: Navigating the journey

Amanda Nguyen is a senior studying accounting at the Broad College of Business. She writes about opportunities and resources that have helped her as a first-generation student.

Growing up, my parents never had the opportunity to attend college. They were the first generation in my family to come to America and had high hopes for the American dream; however, this unfortunately did not include the college experience. As a child, watching my parents constantly work to make ends meet was enough for me to realize that I wanted more in life. I knew that I wanted to attend college to be and do whatever I wanted. This is why I decided to pursue admission into the Eli Broad College of Business to achieve my dream of being a CPA and owning my own business.

Amanda Nguyen smiling
Amanda Nguyen. Courtesy photo.

As a first-generation college student, navigating the academic setting can often feel like traveling through uncharted territory. The journey is filled with unique challenges and triumphs, shaping not only my academic success but also my personal growth and development. Reflecting on my own journey, I found support in two pivotal opportunities and resources: the Broad Champions program and the Russell Palmer Career Management Center.

The Broad Champions program selects 15 business students to represent each of the college’s business majors. Broad Champions engage with alumni, donors, and stakeholders, providing insights into student experiences and assisting in building lasting and meaningful relationships with Broad. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to represent accounting. Through alumni lectures, business conferences, and networking events, Broad Champions has empowered me to embrace my identity as a first-generation student and harness these experiences as a source of strength. I have the tools and confidence now to navigate the academic setting with resilience and determination. I have been able to learn and apply my education to real life interactions, and have the opportunity to give back to help peers in my major. Being a part of the Broad Champions program has been invaluable and has allowed me to cultivate a sense of belonging within the broader university community.

The Russell Palmer Career Management Center has also been instrumental in shaping my professional trajectory. As a first-generation student, navigating the job market can be daunting, with many unfamiliar obstacles and uncertainties. However, the Palmer Center serves as a guiding light, offering abundant resources and support to help students navigate their career paths with confidence. From resumé workshops to mock interviews, the Palmer Center equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today's competitive job market. Perhaps most importantly, it fosters a culture of empowerment and self-discovery, encouraging students to explore their passions and pursue meaningful career paths. This kind of support has been invaluable, offering me the guidance and reassurance needed to navigate the transition from academia to the professional world. After using this resource through my undergraduate time, this year I decided to become a peer career coach at the center to offer my knowledge and experience to fellow future young business professionals.

In sharing these experiences, my hope is to raise awareness of these invaluable resources and to inspire and empower fellow first-generation students on their own journeys. The road may be challenging at times, but with the support of communities like Broad Champions and resources like the Russell Palmer Career Management Center, we together can navigate the complexities of higher education and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.

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