Jonathan Hart '22

Jonathan HartMajor: Organizational Communication

What was it like being among the first in your family to go to college?

I definitely felt out of place when I first came to UP given that this is an expensive school, and the only reason I am able to be here is because of scholarships and grants. I felt like an outsider because I did not have as much money as my peers, but that changed as time went on. Being a first generation student shifted from something I was ashamed of to something I am proud to be a part of. Rather than seeing first generation as a label I had to live under, I now see it as a community that is supportive and hardworking. Making this realization helped me to consider myself as an equal to my peers instead of less than them.

What does it mean for your personally to be a part of the FGEN community and, specifically, to be a FGEN student ambassador?

To me, being a part of the FGEN community means helping giving back to the people that helped me, and helping our current and future community members. My biggest passion is bringing people together, and I am happy to be a part of such a supportive community that does just that. As an ambassador, I hope to be a good representative of our community.

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

Never be afraid to reach out, because we have programs in place to help you with whatever you need. Taking the first step towards improving your life can be difficult and scary, but it will ultimately pay off in a huge way.

Did a mentor play a role in your experience?

One of my best friends my freshman year was a junior and played a huge role in changing my outlook on being a first gen student. Though they were not first gen them self, they always encouraged me and reminded me of the important role in my own family that I play as a first generation student. They treated me like they would treat any of their other friends and taught me that a difference in wealth does not have to act as a barrier.

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

I honestly did not take advantage on any on campus resources until I reached out to Matt and the FGEN community. I was having a lot of difficulty finding a job despite desperately needing one to afford my basic necessities, and Matt provided me with the resources I needed to find one. Because of this experience, I have been more inclined to reach out to my first gen friends, and it warms my heart to see the ways in which the FGEN community has acted as a meaningful recourse to them too.