Terrian Spurs, a senior communication and leadership student, started at UT Austin in the School of Undergraduate Studies. Before graduating next spring, she reflects on her time as a first-gen Longhorn.
How do you work through the challenges that come with being a first-generation college student?
The challenges for me as a first-gen student were the fear of letting my parents down and feeling like I didn’t belong here. I’m a Black first-generation student at a predominately white institution so I had imposter syndrome freshman year. I felt that I had to work through every obstacle on my own and that it was wrong to ask for help. I worked through these feelings by practicing self-care and talking with someone whenever I felt overwhelmed. I think that’s why it’s important to find a community once you’re in college so you have people to support you. Over time, I learned that taking care of yourself is important when things get hard. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it.
What advice would you give to your first-year self?
Give yourself grace and don’t stress yourself out. You are going into a new environment and it can feel like a lot to handle. You’re going to fall and that’s okay. You have to fall in order to learn how to move forward. Eventually, you will find your footing and you’ll be alright. It’s important that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Take advantage of the support from your family and friends!
Did you have any fears or concerns about college before starting?
Yes, I had a lot. I was worried that I wouldn’t find a major that fit me and that I’d realize I didn’t belong at this university. Those fears went away soon after my first year. I took the time to self-evaluate and focus on finding a major that fit me and my passions. I was also worried I would have trouble finding friends on campus. I was lucky to have the same friends from elementary to high school and I was the only one going to UT. I felt like I was really on my own for the first time.
How have you found a sense of community?
Being a Black student at a predominately white institution, I knew I needed to find a safe space for myself with people who understood what I was dealing with. Through New Black Student Weekend and events hosted by Black student organizations during the first week of classes, I found a community pretty quickly. I joined two to three organizations and found friends through them. The people I met my first couple of weeks through those events are still my friends now. I know I can lean on them when I need advice or just need to talk.
What has been your favorite moment at UT?
Honestly, I don’t know if I can pinpoint a specific moment that has been my favorite while at the university. I’m grateful to have had so many moments in college that have been so memorable! I think my most recent favorite moment has to be going to Zilker Park with some of the first friends I made during freshmen orientation. We met up after our first day of classes this year and caught up with each other. It made me happy to see us together sharing the joy of our last year of college!
Learn more about First-Generation Longhorns.