“I actually considered dropping out”


Michael Ungios

Picture of Aislyn with her gown.

Interview audio

Aislyn Alvarado was born in 1999. She was born in New Jersey and moved to Los Angeles, California. For high school she went to Nava College Preparatory Academy and she is the first generation to go to college and graduate. She really had no one to get advice to get from or get help because she is the oldest in the family. In college she wanted to study physiology to become a doctor but that was only for her parents. Throughout college she learned many things like learning to do things you like not what others like and asking for help.



Kimberly Alvarado:  
Hi, my name is Kimberly Alvarado. Today is October 4th. We are recording this interview in Los Angeles, California. I am speaking with Aislyn, who is my sister. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Aislyn Alvarado: Sure,  uh..my name is Aislyn. I’m 22-years-old and I currently live in Los Angeles.
K.A: What college did you go to and why?
A.A: Uh, I went to the University of California Irvine from 2018 to 2022. I recently graduated and I went to UC Irvine um, because honestly at I  first I didn’t know where I was gonna go to but once I visited the campus, well the different campuses of the schools that I got accepted into um.. when I finally went  to go tour all of them in person. I realized that Irvine was the place for me. It just felt right. 
K.A: uh, what was your experience in college?
A.A: um.. I think my college experience was enjoyable but also very challenging. I think that for me the most difficult year was my first year because I’m a first generation college student so I was basically [clears throat]  you know going through everything um.. kind of alone and for the first time so it was a very new experience. And I felt intimidated because I felt sometimes like other people around me were smarter than me and more capable.  And there were times where I did feel like giving up but, I think just pushing through and growing as a person is what made my experience in college enjoyable.
K.A: Yeah and what was your favorite part of that college.
A.A: I think my favorite part of UCI was getting to know new people from different backgrounds and different cultures and just getting to know them more on a deeper level. And yeah, just spending time- Also spending time with others that were just like me, first generation law income first year students or just college students in general, I think that’s what I really enjoyed.
K.A: Yeah, and what was your major?
A.A: So I majored in Criminology law and society. But I started as undecided, undeclared and then that was my first year and I thought I Wanted to continue studying something like the sciences. So my second year I declared public health science but I didn’t like that either so I thought I wanted to get into psychology but when I went into physiology there was still some science involved. And that’s-because of psychology I found criminology and I just fell in love with the major and all the courses that related to criminology, law, and society. So I- that’s what I finished with.
K.A: What was the hardest thing and why?
A.A: I think for me the hardest thing about experiencing college as a first gen student was- there were many things first I know that Irvine isn’t super far to L.A which is where home is for me but I did experience homesickness regardless of the proximity of UCI to my home because I’m very close to my family so my first year was very difficult I felt alone so I think that’s also another factor that played into my homesickness. Another thing was feeling alone. Many times I- I was the only one from my high school that went to UCI so I didn’t know anyone. And It was a pretty big school, my high school was small. I was very used to having close relationships with my teacher and the different staff so just you know feeling alone several times maybe, sometimes falling into a little bit of depression because of the loneliness. Secondly I think- or thirdly another challenge I think was adapting to the quickness because in high school and really k-12 we always operated on a semester system but in UCI it was a quarter system which was completely new to me and it was a faster pace that I had to adapt to so that was also very challenging to adapt to the quickness because it was barely week three and we were already taking tests and midterms and then another 3 weeks and it was like another round and It was just difficult to kind of learn new ways to study and adapting to how quickly how things went.
K.A: Yeah and who or what encouraged you to keep going?
A.A: I think my support system consisted of my parents. My first year I felt completely devastated, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. And I actually considered dropping out but my parents were the ones that were constantly pushing me and telling me that they believed in me and that they knew what I was capable of so they kept pushing me through it all. Also my – I have a specific High school teacher, my art teacher he was also always like checking in with me and making sure that, you know everything was going well and I would talk to him about my difficulties too. And he was also another support system that encouraged me throughout the entire way you know to just keep pushing and seek out help because I learned that there’s always gonna be people on campus or anywhere you are that if you know you feel like you can’t do it you can always reach out. Also staff at UCI.
K.A: That’s very nice. And at the campus did you have a favorite place?
A.A: I really liked just going to Aldrich park which is basically this park on campus that’s very green, there’s lots of trees, and you know different flowers and just a lot nature that you usually don’t see in LA because it’s such a big city so It was just nice to catch you know a fresh breath of air in Aldrich and there was always like something going on there too. Like you’ll see students walking their pets. Going to class so I always thought it was a nice nature walk. I would go there a lot just for my mental health.
K.A: And then what’s something you would want to let students in their first year know about college? Any advice?
A.A: I think most importantly it’s very important to -yeah like I feel like many first generation low income students they  – you know they have similar reasons as to why it is they are going to college. And sometimes it can be easy to kind of have a mindset where you wanna do everything that your family or parents tell you to do. And for a while I think that’s why I struggled so much because I- like my family constantly reminded me they always wanted to be like a doctor in the family. And I feel like because that was the only thing I knew I was trying to force myself to like biology and to like all those pre-med classes but really I hated it and instead it was negatively affecting my mental heath. And once I found what I was truly passionate about which was criminology you know I was doing way much better in my classes, my  mental health and also along with that my social life also benefited from it. So I think really listening to yourself and finding what your true passions are regardless of how hard it can be to not listen to what your parents want you to do it’s also important to consider what it is you want to do. And also I think a very big lesson that I learned is to reach out whenever you need help because there’s always gonna be people that are willing to help you and all it takes is for you to go out there and step out of your comfort zone ad ask for the help that you need because I think for me personally I struggled with reaching out for help because I am the oldest in my family and I- it kind- my whole life everything kind of just depended in me. I never really had anyone else to reach out to. I was the one looking for the answers myself and looking how to do things myself so asking for help wasn’t something that was familiar to me. But my experience at UCI helped me change that and now I feel more comfortable reaching out to people and asking for help whenever I need it.
K.K: Thank you for letting me interview you.