Being a First-Generation, Pre-Health College Student

What does it mean to be first-gen? By definition, if your parent(s) did not complete a 4-year college or university degree then you are a first-generation college student. But there is more to it than just the facts of this identity. Being a first-generation college student is an identity that produces immense strength, perseverance, determination, and bravery. Although this is true, being first-gen also comes with added stress. Most of us have suffered from the pressure put on us to succeed and break the cycle, and many feel as though we are not doing enough or are not good enough academically.

The above is especially true for those interested in pursuing a pre-health undergraduate degree, or who are interested in the world of healthcare and clinical research. Being a first-gen student studying in this field is especially challenging because of the academic rigor, and the pressure of not only our undergraduate degrees but the expectations of graduate school too. Therefore many first-gen students in this field face imposter syndrome. If you are unfamiliar with this term, imposter syndrome involves doubting your abilities and feeling like you are undeserving of what you are experiencing. Even with all of this added pressure, many of us still persevere, beat all odds, and continue to further our passions and education. There is something special about being the first, and also pursuing a field that is based on helping others.

If you are a first-gen pre-health student, we are extremely proud of you! We know how strong and determined you are to have made it this far. And if you are suffering from imposter syndrome, you are not alone and you have made it this far for a reason. The Knowlton Center has many great first-gen and first-gen ally staff members to help support you in your healthcare or clinical research goals! Be sure to reach out and take advantage of all the resources we have.

If you are looking for a first-generation community on campus, please reach out to Denison’s First Generation Network! We would be happy to welcome you and help in any way that we can to ensure that you are supported while pursuing this field. Below is some more advice for first-gen students:

  1. Utilize Denison’s Resources! Whether its ARC for academic purposes, the Knowlton Center for career purposes, or the Wellness Center for mental and physical wellness, Denison has so many resources that are helpful once you know about them.
  2. Reach out to the First Generation Network! FGN is a student-led organization. You can reach out to us on Instagram @denisonfirstgen with any questions! We are always willing to help in any way that we can.
  3. Find a Mentor! Find a first-gen faculty or professor (we have a few!) and/or an upperclassman who is a part of FGN to help you navigate college. More specifically if you would like a pre-health mentor you can reach out to one of the Healthcare and Clinical Research Peer Fellows or Sara Stasko.
By Jacqueline Laskowski
Jacqueline Laskowski Peer Career Fellow: Healthcare and Clinical Research