Kimberly is a sophomore at American University, pursuing a double major in film and business administration.
For Kimberly Herrera and her mother, Olivia, the hardest part of going to college is behind them. They are now beyond the fears and doubts that intimidated them as Kimberly, a first-generation college student, began applying to schools. “It was new to me, too,” Olivia says. She wasn’t prepared for her daughter to be so far from home and was concerned about the environment she would encounter at college, but she encouraged her to pursue a degree.
Kimberly was worried that she wouldn’t fit in, that her classes would be too hard and she would fail, or that she would find that she chose the wrong school. But she did not fail a single class and loves American University and her classes. Looking back, she says visiting the prospective colleges is vital. “As soon as I set foot on American, I knew it was the one for me,” she says.
Olivia soon adjusted to her daughter’s absence, feeling that she was in a good school with a warm and friendly environment. Kimberly is free to make her own decisions about what she wants to do in life, and Olivia feels that her life will be easier for her daughter than it was for her. She now advises her friends to encourage their children to attend college.
“I was just afraid of making a mistake and picking the wrong school . . . The first day I set foot in one of the buildings, I thought, ‘I can see myself in here.’ It just felt right.”
Olvia is the mother of two and co-owner of La Tonalteca restaurant chain.
Olivia and her husband, Ramiro, did not have a chance to attend college. That’s why they insisted that Kimberly and younger brother Hector make education a priority in their lives. In her interview, she discusses the important role mothers play in motivating their children to become first-generation college students. She highlights the importance of offering her children guidance while also giving them the freedom to make their own decisions. Additionally, she emphasizes that mothers shouldn’t be afraid reach out to others in order to help their children achieve the dream of attending college.
“When your children come to you with a certificate or a diploma, you’ll say it was worth it to have sent them to college, and to have made the sacrifice.”