A Diverse Background
As I reflect on my journey, I must begin with my family. I come from a diverse background, with my father born in Mexico and my mother born in Ecuador. Both of my parents immigrated to America at an early age and therefore never attended college.
When my parents had my brothers and me, they promised to ensure we would get the education they were not fortunate enough to receive. I am reminded of all the sacrifices they have made to fulfill their promise to us.
My Road to College
I started my own personal education road by attending a public elementary school system. My parents barely knew any English at the time so they would always speak Spanish around the house. I was placed in an English as a Second Language program until 2nd grade. School was very difficult for me during this time, because I could not help but feel like an outsider to my classmates. My mother realized I had to learn English, so every day she would take my brothers and me to the library to select a book for us to read to her every night. Even though she did not really understand what we were saying to her, my mother provided full support behind us learning English. I started to excel in my classes and learned the importance of a good education.
Middle school was probably the determining factor in my life. I was fortunate enough to be selected by a lottery system to attend a magnet public school. Here I was blessed with close relationships to teachers and staff who gave me the drive to learn. The small classrooms allowed for greater interaction between students and the instructor. I knew I had to go to a similar high school where I could get the same support.
The same thing happened in high school, except this school was a charter school for my district and focused on information, technology, and engineering. I will never forget in my sophomore year of high school I decided to take a Pre-AP U.S. History course. This was probably the most challenging class I have taken, which involved a mass amount of reading and drawing significant summaries. I cannot recall much of the history I learned, but I will never forget that I undertook a difficult challenge and put in the right amount of effort to pass the class with a B+. From there I took three AP courses my junior year along with SATs and filling out applications to colleges.
Providence College: Veritas (Truth)
The first response I received back was from Providence College. It was an amazing feeling for my parents and I to know I had been accepted into college. I was prosperous enough to get a sufficient amount of finical aid both from the college and the government to attend Providence College. I remembered looking back to my family on my high school graduation day as I was walking up the steps to receive my diploma.
I thought to myself I was paving the road for my cousins and younger brother and not only giving them someone to look up to, but also someone to surpass.
I went into college as a declared accounting major because I had taken a couple of accounting classes in high school and I enjoyed the material. I attended numerous networking events to get my face out in the business world. I had three internship offers by the middle of my sophomore year. I chose to intern with Ernst &Young working in the Financial Service Office in audit, and I have accepted my re-offer with them for the upcoming summer. I wanted to ensure I had a suitable resume when I applied for my study abroad program.
Mama’s Boy Leaving the Nest
When I first began college, I knew I wanted to study abroad so I attended information sessions as early as my freshman year to understand the criteria. No one in my entire family has traveled to Europe and I wanted to be the first one to experience that journey. I applied my sophomore year to the study abroad program from my school and I was accepted. The next step was to actually apply to my specific program, which was University College of Dublin.
I chose to study abroad in Ireland because I had a lifelong soccer coach who was Irish and who I looked up to as a role model. I also had a couple of Irish friends who had only great things to say about their country. In the end I was accepted into my program within a week.
The problem was never if I could go abroad, but it was if I could afford it. My parents were obviously happy for me when I shared with them the great news, but that joy quickly turned into concern. My mother was first worried about being separated from her middle child for almost 15 weeks, the longest we have been apart.
The second thing on her mind was if we could financially afford my study abroad trip. I knew I had to do all I could to help my parents, so I applied to multiple scholarships and was blessed to receive a great amount of financial aid.
I know for a fact that without the help of many generous institutions I would not be writing this essay in Dublin right now. This is the end of my story for now, but I know for sure there are more opportunities out there for me to reach.
Eric Mojica is a double major in accounting and finance at Providence College and is studying abroad with IFSA-Butler at University College Dublin in Spring 2017. He is a First Generation Scholar for IFSA-Butler through the First Generation Scholarship Program.