TEA TIME WITH TINA: First and Last Generation

Opinions Editor

Many people would label students like me the “First Generation”—the first ones to attend college—but I believe the term “first” is misleading. Instead, I call myself and those like me the “Last Generation,” the last ones troubled by poverty.

My mother, who I affectionately refer to as my mama, is someone who has been through far more than the average American. With so little she could tangibly give me, she made sure I was and am nurtured and live a life paved with opportunity and good fortune. Though there is a gap that separates our generations, it is the shared ideals and influences that she passed to me that impact my life day after day.

Therefore, it is unfair to call myself the first to break out. I grew up taking the comfort of an American upbringing for granted, while my mama is shadowed by a childhood of loss, change and disappointment. Day after day, she would come home exhausted, perpetuated by the long hours of manual labor and touted by what little she can accomplish with no education. It was her plethora of sacrifices that taught me skills no strangers in a classroom can.

Despite the fine distinction between “first” and “last,” the meaning between the words lies solely in the differences of our beliefs. Both words are respectfully valid, yet we only hear about the former perspective. First this and first that.

As the first generation to attend college, it’s my responsibility and privilege to be the last generation growing up with poverty. I have—in many aspects—acquired all the knowledge in the world to know the limitless boundaries I have yet to discover. Because I’m not the first generation nor am I the last.