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A First-Gen College Student’s Journey to SEU

Are you going to be the first in your family to attend college and are nervous about what it entails? You’re not alone. Karina Marrero-Garcia, a first-generation college student, was in those same shoes before attending Southeastern University this fall. 

Karina is a current freshman, and is taking her prerequisites to prepare her to major in Nursing. She first heard about SEU while sitting in a leadership class her freshman year of high school, when an SEU football player came in to talk about the university. Little did he know the impact that he would have on Karina’s college journey.  

The Visit

Before this presentation from the SEU football player, college was not something Karina and her family talked about. Her parents had not attended college and were busy working, one of her brothers enlisted in the military, and the other got married and started a family. So when she decided to attend college, it meant a whole new world of opportunities — but also many questions. 

The idea of going to college can be nerve-wracking, especially when it comes to choosing the right one for you. Karina toured the SEU campus before she applied, but that first visit didn’t convince her family that SEU was the right fit. This was hard for Karina to hear, but to respect her family’s feelings, she decided to put SEU on hold and consider additional options. 

Throughout the rest of her college application process, Karina was accepted into five other universities, but kept feeling that none of them were the right fit. Later that year, Karina and her family decided to tour SEU for a second time — and that’s when everything clicked. By the end of the day, Karina and her family were in agreement — this is where she was meant to be. She knew God had placed SEU in her heart that day in her high school class, and now He had confirmed it. 

The Decision

There’s just something about walking around campus and experiencing the environment that could someday become your home, and visiting campus played a significant role in helping Karina and her family decide on SEU. She encourages those who are on the fence about applying to sign up for a visit

After her visit, Karina sat down to really think about why she wanted to go to SEU. She determined that since her family and her faith played a big role in who she has become, it would be amazing to both be close to home, and to live on a campus where people make their relationship with God a priority. SEU fit both requirements perfectly.

Home Away From Home

When the time came to move onto campus, Karina felt overwhelmed. She didn’t know what to expect, being that no one in her family had ever done this before. But as soon as she and her family pulled into the Bethany lot, her fears and doubts went away. She recalled fellow students emerging from Bethany to come help unload her car. People were so kind and enthusiastic that Karina didn’t have to think twice about fitting in. These simple interactions were the first of many which made her feel welcomed and noticed. Moving somewhere new can be frightening, but thanks to the welcome she received, Karina felt excited instead. 

Southeastern University has become a home away from home for Karina. When she walks around campus, she’s filled with peace knowing that God placed her right where she needs to be. Now there’s nowhere else she can imagine spending her college years, and she’s so glad that SEU is the place where she’s starting the next chapter of her family’s legacy. 

Watch First Gen Stories

Karina Marrero-Garcia, First Gen Student
Dr. Bridget Lee, Director of Multicultural Affairs & Eileen Colon, Director of Retention
Amy Beatty, Dean of Steelman Library

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