First generation college student trailblazing career path

firdas_familyMy name is Firdas, and I am the first member of my family to go to college!

My family moved to the United States 10 years ago when I was only 13 years old. At the time, I already knew that going to college would be a given for me. My parents gave up all their life savings and their loved ones in order to move to the land of opportunities. You see, my parents never had the opportunity to go to college, so they have always dreamed about being able to give the opportunity to their children. Where I am from, going to college was a dream that came true only for the wealthy. Finding a job upon graduation was for those of true Russian ethnicity. Why, you may ask? Racism and a tremendous gap between the rich and poor with a lot of corruption.

I attended high school in the U.S., and switched five schools between my freshman and senior year. I have always looked at school as a way to survive. I come from a family of farmers and wholesalers that had to work extra long hours, miss most family events, and be disrespected by the government and those around them. Since we were not considered to be Russian due to our skin color, we were not given the same level of education as others were. We were viewed as a lower class, and in my opinion, it was very ethnocentric.

In the eyes of my parents, college would give me the tools to become a professional. This would help me obtain skills to start a career, which would save me from being disrespected for being incompetent or uneducated.

When the time for applying to colleges had come around, I was not prepared! Most of my classmates knew what they wanted to study, and some moved out of state. I simply wanted to attend a college in town and not have to pay much out of pocket; so those preferences eliminated most campus options and left me with two: IUPUI and UI. I did not know that I was supposed to research the colleges and compare them to a certain criteria, so I decided to pick one and go with it. I applied to IUPUI and got an acceptance letter. Great news, only if I knew what classes I wanted to enroll in. I had never thought that choosing a career would be such a challenging task!

I asked my father to attend the campus orientation with me, and when we talked to my career advisor, she said “why not study business? You can work in any industry with a business degree, plus it looks like you would enjoy working with others.” So I said, “Let’s do it!”

Luckily, IUPUI offers a highly ranked business program through the Kelley School of Business. The school is competitive and very popular around the world. I met people who had moved from other states and came from other countries to have the chance to attend Kelley. I got tremendously lucky! Not only that Kelley had a campus close to home, it is affordable to attend.

Now, I am a senior at the Kelley School of Business, triple majoring in Management, HR and International Studies. I was granted opportunities to do internships for multiple companies, from which I chose a recruiting firm, Milliner & Associates. Here, I practice HR duties and am learning how to become a leader from my managers and co-workers.

When I look back at my journey, it has been one amazing ride that has given me priceless experiences. Everything I have done until now has been a first not only for me, but also for all my relatives. I was the first to attend high school in the US, first to attend prom, first to graduate, apply to college, do an internship, and I will be the first to graduate and get a job where I will be valued! I have never been to a college graduation before, so I guess I will face it when the time comes in May of 2016.

My biggest advice to those that are the first: keep on moving, with the right amount of effort and desire, nothing is impossible. You simply cannot fail at something that has never been done before!

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