First-Gen Student Profile: Allen Chen ’19

Hailing from Alhambra, California, Allen majored in American Studies and sociology.

Activities at Oxy: College Chorus, DancePro
Work Study Jobs: Oxy Admission, Neighborhood Partnership Program, Residential Education & Housing Services

As a first-generation college student, what were some of the unique challenges you faced?

My first year, I wish I had more confidence to put myself out there and apply for things. But I didn't believe in my ability to get selected or balance everything successfully. Connecting with first-gen professors and the Neighborhood Partnership Program team helped me find my footing. This led to independent studies, internships, research opportunities and study abroad! Like many first-generation, low-income students, I worked two to three campus jobs every semester. I undoubtedly had a very fulfilling Oxy experience, but I wonder what else I would have been involved with if I didn't prioritize work.

What advice or encouragement would you give to a prospective first-gen student?

Have confidence that your tenacity will get you very far. Maintain a healthy balance between excellence and humility. Connect with faculty and staff. Participate in the high-impact activities (jobs, internships, research, study abroad) that make Oxy special. Enjoy the liberal arts college experience!

Anything else you’d like to share?

With folks like Erik [Quezada], Susan [Young], Maricela [Martinez] and others at the helm, I trust that the First-Gen Coalition is here to stay for good. In the future, I hope Oxy is able to serve even more first-generation students by meeting full demonstrated need without loans. If you're a first-gen student and want to chat, my email is chenallen8@gmail.com.