Michelle Lau '18

Michelle Lau in front of a waterfallMajor: Computer Science 

What was it like being among the first in your family to go to college?  Tell us about your story, and what you think has helped you succeed so far at UP?

It was very different. I am from Hawaii, so I have never been so far away from home before and definitely not for 4 months at a time. When I did go home for breaks, it felt very short. I would get comfortable at home and next thing I knew, I had to leave again so I had a hard time adjusting. I talked to my parents on a weekly basis my freshman year and I was very homesick. I shared how I was feeling with my parents and they did as much as they could to help me, but ultimately I was on my own. That's when I went to the Shepard Academic Resource Center for help. I was able to share my feelings with Brenda who understood what I was going through. Brenda was very helpful and I always felt better after meeting with her.

What does it mean for you to be a part of the FGEN community and to be a FGEN Student Ambassador at UP?

I am grateful to be a part of the FGEN community, especially to be a FGEN student ambassador. This is a community who is always there when I need to talk and they will always do everything they can to help me. I feel very special to be a part of the FGEN community because we are the first in our family to go to college and graduate. As a FGEN student ambassador, I am responsible for reaching out to those who need help just like those who helped me. No one should feel unwanted and alone and this is what drives me to reach out to people who are facing challenges. I love planning events to bring the FGEN community together and to see the support we give to one another.

What is your advice to FGEN students at UP who are facing challenges?

My advice for FGEN students at UP who are facing challenges is to talk to people. There are many resources that you can go to for help (SARC, FGEN ambassadors, etc.). You may think people don't understand what you're going through, but chances are there are many others who are feeling the same way and are afraid to share that. It is always easier to share your feelings with people who understand, so by talking to people it will make you feel better and people will do everything to help you. Another advice I have is to get involved in the UP community. By keeping yourself busy, this helps you take your mind off of those challenges and helps you make more friends.

Has a mentor played a role in your experience at UP?  How so?

I consider Brenda my mentor who helped me with my challenges because she was the person I always met with when I had to talk about my challenges. I always felt better after my meetings with Brenda because she listened to what I had to say and she understood what I was going through. When I talked to my parents, they definitely tried to help as much as they could, but they've never gone through what I went through, so there was always that barrier.

What resources have been significant, meaningful, or helpful for you during your UP experience?

The SARC is always very welcoming and they will help you with anything. Being involved with the UP community is also very helpful in helping you feel wanted here. Joining clubs, making friends, and getting to know the faculty and staff at UP was a significant

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