Not the Only One

Tags: academics diversity extracurriculars first generation

When I first came to Princeton 3 years ago, I had no idea what to expect. When I arrived, I felt lost and confused. Everyone around me seemed to know what they were doing while I was struggling to figure out the basics of college. As a first-generation/low-income (FLI) student, I didn’t have anyone I knew at Princeton or back at home to ask questions, I felt that I had to figure it all out myself. By the time freshmen year ended, I realized that there was so much information that I wish I would have known about if only I had a community to reach out to for help. This pushed me to seek out a group called Princeton’s Hidden Minority Council (PHMC), which is a student organization for FLI students formed during my freshmen year. PHMC drastically changed my Princeton experience. Suddenly I had upper-class FLI students I could ask for advice and I had a space to discuss FLI experiences with others who could relate. I finally realized that I was not alone.

When you enter Princeton, I want you to know that you are not alone. Know that 20% of your class can identify as being the first in their family to attend college or as coming from a low-income background. There are communities and resources available to help you transition and find your place at Princeton. You won’t have to figure everything out by yourself, as there will hoards of FLI students and administrators who will guide you along the way.

The two main sources of support will come from PHMC and the Scholar’s Institute Fellows Program (SIFP). PHMC hosts social events, promotes dialogue on campus about socio-economic class issues, provides a community for FLI students and allies, and advocates for policies that better support FLI students. SIFP is run by the Dean Gonzalez and Dr. Barton who provide workshops to help students with academic, career, and cultural capital (i.e. how to talk to professors or how to get funding for internships). In addition to the super helpful workshops, SIFP also provides a community for FLI students through small mentorship groups and SIFP social events/trips that are subsidized or fully funded (i.e. Disney World for spring break).

In addition to the wonderful FLI community, you will also get to meet your amazing classmates who you will spend the next four years laughing, crying, celebrating, and everything else in between with and so it is important to reach out across difference to get to know one another. These people will become your community so you should value their experiences and perspectives as much as you value your own.

I want you to know that your FLI identity gives you strength. You have been able to make it to Princeton because of the challenges you have overcome and not in spite of them. You will come to find that you belong at Princeton and that you bring a unique perspective to each conversation and interaction you come across during your time here.

I can’t wait for you to arrive in the fall and begin your journey at Princeton! For now, please watch PHMC’s welcome video to know how excited we are to have you as part of the Princeton community!

On behalf of the Co-Chair of PHMC, welcome to Princeton!


Author Profile

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My Bui '18

My name is My Bui and I am a junior in the Politics Department. On campus I am the co-chair of Princeton’s Hidden Minority Council and a head fellow for Scholar’s Institute Fellows Program. In my free time I like to nap, bake, watch YouTube videos, and sing. 

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