By Natalia Angeles
With the pandemic almost coming to an end and schools reopening, it is fundamental to enlighten the issues of first-year and first-generation students.
Maria Evelyn Romero Gomez, 18, found it hard to stay connected with campus. “The first semester I struggled,” Gomez said.
With school being remote for her first year in college, she did not know who to look to for help.
“I got very little help from counselors,” said Gomez.
Not only did she find it hard to look for help, but she found it hard to get involved.
“I did not know how to navigate ELAC’s website,” said Gomez.
Clubs were remote as well, so Gomez had no clue where to look for Zoom meetings or club leader’s emails.
“I did not want to join a club through a computer,” Gomez said.
Gomez felt she was not going to gain any knowledge through her kitchen table.
The First-Year Center, a program that Gomez joined, has helped relieve some stress.
“I got paired up with a counselor through the first-year center that sort of helped,” Gomez said. The FYE was a good resource for students like Gomez.
Gomez found time-scheduling hard. “The First-Year center had a club fair but none of those days worked for me,” Gomez said. With students working and having personal issues, it can be very challenging to want to join clubs.
Gomez related to many students who have family responsibilities.
“I am the oldest daughter, I take care of my two-year-old brother,” Gomez said.
This adds to her discouragement to join clubs that ELAC offers. Gomez suggested that clubs hold informational meetings of their club information for a week. “They should record their Zoom meetings, or hold meetings for a week. Students have such busy schedules,” Gomez said.
Gomez believes that the best way to stay connected is if clubs were active on social media.
“I have seen other club Instagram pages and they have not posted since the beginning of quarantine,” Gomez said.
Clubs posting on their social media can help students who know how to navigate apps to join.
Gomez’s experience as a first-generation student has challenged her even more during the pandemic. “I sometimes do not want to go to college,” Gomez said.
Gomez finds it challenging to speak about her opinion to her family. She feels that her family would be disappointed.
“Filling out the financial aid package was so scary,” Gomez said. When financial aid opened, Gomez found it useful to pay a visit to the Dream Resource Center.
“I reached out to the Dream Resource Center for my Dream Act application. They helped,” Gomez said.
Through centers like these, Gomez still has strong hopes that she can connect with her campus.
Overall, Gomez is very fond of the benefits ELAC has offered students like herself. “ELAC has been helpful in many ways, financially and adjusting to college life. I would just push them to work on supporting students more,” Gomez said.
She found it smart to attend ELAC first and transfer to her dream school UCLA in order to find her true calling.
Apart from her student life, Gomez continues to look for ways to stay in extracurriculars.
Gomez has been a part of a program called Las Fotos Project.
Throughout the pandemic, she held two workshops on photojournalism at the Korean Town Youth Plus Center and an English Class at Cal State LA.
“It was cool to do the research, and talk to people about the topic, especially some kids my age,” Gomez said.
To look for ways to stay connected to the ELAC campus, you can visit their website: https://www.elac.edu/Academics/Departments/English/Student-Clubs
Or you can also go to the student activities website to learn more about different events: https://www.elac.edu/Student-Services/Student-Activities