Redefining Family Legacy

Eastern's passionate first-generation students pursue new educational paths to make their families proud

Eastern’s campus boasts a vibrant tapestry of students, each with their own unique stories. Among them is a group of first-generation students who are not only pursuing their passions and dreams, but redefining their family legacies. A first-generation college student is someone who is the first in their family to enroll at a university or college, embarking on a journey that is both challenging and exciting, driven by their strong determination to learn, succeed, and pave a new path. 

As a first-generation student myself, I have gotten to see firsthand the obstacles and victories that come with being the first in my family to pursue higher education. I would describe my experience as a challenging gift. Coming from financial hardships and a background where my family members were previously unable to pursue higher education, my generation is the first to be able to break the cycle. Making my parents and grandparents proud by pursuing higher education motivates me everyday. 

Eastern has equipped me with the tools and resources to excel academically, socially, and spiritually. My experience is similar to many other first-generation students at EU who, like me, get to start a new legacy in their families. Read on to hear from other students and their perspectives on life as current first-generation students.

Gerson Obando '25

Gerson Obando '25BUSINESS MAJOR
“One of the biggest hurdles I've faced during my educational journey has been the physical distance from my family in Colombia. The longing for home — including the comfort of familiar faces and the vibrant culture of Colombia – has often made me feel homesick. However, it's precisely this challenge that has pushed me to grow and become more independent. The most rewarding part of my journey has been the knowledge I've acquired. College has not only provided me with academic learning, but has also expanded my horizons in ways I could have never imagined. I've gained insights into business strategies, economics, and leadership that have ignited my passion for success. For other first-generation students, my advice would be to embrace every opportunity, strive for excellence, and believe in yourself. Be the best in everything you do, because, as a first-generation student, you have the power to break barriers and set an inspiring example for generations to come.”

Hannah Bonanducci '26

“To me, being ‘first-generation’ means that I am the first in my family to set the standard of education being a reality rather than a luxury. I was able to take the odds of a ‘first-generation, low-income student’ to break the educational barriers of my school and family and wind up at Eastern. I'm not just learning how to be a journalist; I'm learning how to approach the world and ask questions, which will provide a learning and understanding of the world far beyond my four years here. I hope that the work that I do now will make college more accessible and profitable for the generation that follows me, whether it be my own kids, the next generation of my family, or even the kids of my friends.”

John Heller '26

“I find it important to create change and make my family proud. My family is my passion, and that motivates me to keep moving forward. Initially, learning time management was a big hurdle for me – no one is making sure you’re awake to go to class or doing assignments. I learned I had to mature quickly and be responsible to be successful. The most rewarding part has been building relationships with new people I meet and growing as a person. Seeing my hard work pay off always feels good.”