First Gen Students and Faculty Share Their Stories
Nov. 8 is National First-Generation Day, a time to recognize the challenges and celebrate the successes of first-generation students, faculty and staff, or individuals whose parents did not receive a baccalaureate degree.
UW School of Medicine faculty, residents, fellows and students – including Drs. Hao Tong, chief resident, Sofia Jaramillo Quiroz, fellow (Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine), and Johnnie Orozco, associate professor (Medical Oncology) – shared with The Huddle what being first generation means to them.
“Being a first-generation student is not only a proud achievement for someone who grew up in a lower socioeconomic household, but a proud achievement for anyone who is coming from a marginalized community that has faced systemic barriers to higher education,” says Tong.
"Being a first-generation physician is a privilege, says Jaramillo Quiroz. "Both my parents come from humble backgrounds. They make me realize how fortunate I am every day. The possibility of achieving the highest level of education and more so outside of my home country is the result of a family endeavor. Access to education is a luxury that has allowed me to have perspective and appreciate my privileged position. I use it to help the less fortunate every day."
“Being a first-gen faculty member is a source of confidence now, a reminder that I’ve had to find innovative ways to ‘figure things out’ to get to the next level, to get here,” says Orozco. “Whereas before the struggles with imposter syndrome from finding my way to academic medicine were at times paralyzing, now I use it as a constant reminder that I’ve got what it takes to get here, and that I do belong in this seat at the table.”