Clarissa Guzman ’22

6 July 2021
Clarissa Guzman ’22
  • Hometown: Sunnyville, CA
  • Major: SOAN
  • Minor: I am working towards an Educational Studies minor
  • Organizations & Activities: Define American, LASO, Women of Color +, Rugby (club), volunteer with the Northfield Middle School and Young Chefs, TRIO Peer Leader, Student Career Assistant (Career Center) 

What’s your favorite place at Carleton?

I really love the library, I really enjoy 3rd floor, it is a nice mixture of quietness and there is some talk,

Recently, I’ve been going a lot to the Weitz Center. Weitz is really nice to do work and during the day, you get a lot of sunlight in stuff with the windows. Anderson is fun with the cafe and the ice cream. 

And the Arb, and the neighborhood, walking around the neighborhood. I started running, there is one long road, just running by the houses, it feels really homey. It is just a really safe and nice neighborhood. 

What does it mean for you to be the first in your family to go to college? 

The pride I experience when envisioning walking across the stage at commencement brings many emotions. Receiving my college degree will fulfill an achievement that my family and I started planning for back when I was in elementary school. While non-first-generation students can seek guidance about navigating college from their parent(s), I needed to seek support outside of my family. My self-advocacy efforts — seeking out campus resources and connecting with faculty/staff — equipped me with the knowledge and guidance needed to succeed at Carleton.

Additionally, my resiliency stems from knowing my “why.” My commitment to earning my Bachelor of Arts degree in SOAN is for my parents whose pride is reflected in their exchanges with friends, “Our daughter is studying at a college in Minnesota.” While it hasn’t always been easy, I am proud of my journey as a first-generation student. 

What made you decide to attend Carleton? 

I actually did a summer program at Carleton, the Quantitative Reasoning Institute. I remember opening up to a professor and he was really supportive throughout the program. He would always say, “If you’re struggling, please reach out and I can look over your code.” That little interaction I had with him definitely made a big impact on me. Because in my mind it was a representation of how professors were at Carleton. They want to see students succeed and help in any way they can; including being willing to set aside more office hours for you. 

The interaction over the summer made a big difference for me and helped me feel more comfortable with Carleton. Also, it is really pretty in the summer. Although I didn’t know much about the winters, I quickly learned and now believe it or not I really enjoy the snow. 

What would you want people to know about being First-Gen at Carleton?

My identity as a first-generation student has shaped the unique challenges that I have experienced at Carleton due to being the first in my family to attend a four-year college. My ability to tap into my strengths and the campus community for support has empowered me to overcome each obstacle.

Carleton professors and staff members care about the well-being and academic progress of each student. My decision to share my struggles with my advisors and professors has resulted in being given the information I have needed to navigate life as a college student. Confiding in students who identify as first-generation has shown me that I’m not alone in my struggles.

While self-doubt accompanied my first year at Carleton, my pride and confidence have become more pronounced with each obstacle that I’ve overcome. I have realized that being a first-generation student has equipped me with the skillset (i.e., time management skills, flexibility, reaching out for help) to persevere, because I have always had to overcome additional challenges to get ahead. 

I am grateful for all of the opportunities and support available at Carleton; my journey to earn my Bachelor of Arts degree at Carleton isn’t meant to be carried out in isolation. My success at Carleton is the direct result of my actions and the network of support I’ve cultivated. 

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