Senior psychology major Isabel Ortiz has persevered through the intimidation of being a first-generation college student.

Society tells students that if you dream big and continue your education, you are destined for success. However, growing up with this pressure isn’t easy when you’re the first in your family to go through it.

“I didn’t even know how to apply for college in the first place or fill out the FAFSA. I didn’t have anyone to turn to about picking classes. I did not have the support from family that I would’ve liked simply because they just don’t know what it’s like to be a college student,” Ortiz indicated.

But Ortiz knew the reward was worth the challenge. Research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2019 indicates, “college grads earn $30,000 a year more than people with just a high school degree”.

“I wanted to go to college because I set higher standards for myself. I wanted the experience. It really allowed me to grow as an individual. I wanted to be the first in my family to accomplish finishing college and higher education. It really does mean everything to me,” Ortiz reflected.

It has not always been easy. Ortiz struggled with what seemed to be the most routine, mundane tasks for other students. During those times of struggle, Ortiz remained patient and resilience, and relied on the family she’s found at Ship.

Ortiz realized finding a support system was important and she’s found it in many places at Ship. She is involved in the Latino Student Organization, D.I.V.A. S. and Activities Program Board where she has found a community that helps her navigate all parts of life at Ship.

With her drive and the support systems she has found at Ship, she is finding success. Shippensburg celebrated the success of First-Gen students like Ortiz with a First-Generation Celebration Week, meant to recognize the accomplishments of people who are creating new legacies for themselves and their families.

“It’s nice to know I am breaking generational curses,” Ortiz concluded.

Ortiz is excited about the future she is creating at Ship. As a psychology major, she hopes to eventually become a psychologist or a mental health counselor post-graduation. Ortiz has a passion for mental health awareness and is using her time at Ship as a steppingstone to bring change to our communities and world.

Follow along with Isabel for the day on her takeover of Ship’s Instagram on Wednesday, November 11, 2020- @ShippensburgUniv

Read more stories from the Class of 2022.