A first-generation American Path to Success

Smiling young man with short beard and business attire against natural backdrop
Amaratpreet Sekhon, a BS Nursing Candidate from Fresno,CA, is a member of the NU Scholars January 2020 Cohort

Due to the current pandemic caused by COVID-19 I believe that it is important to remind fellow students to keep their sights set on the bigger picture. Many students are currently running into various obstacles when it comes to their education: not being able to attend a physical class or clinical, financial concerns, or even health issues. These obstacles may seem insurmountable right now, but if you give it your all you can overcome them. It is important to remember these hardships will not last forever and that things will get better. Later on, when looking back at this time, you may even come to find that these obstacles helped improve your ability to adapt and overcome.

The concept of pursuing further education after the completion of high school was always described by my teachers and counselors as a simple path: The first step is to complete your high school education, and the second is to apply to a higher education establishment. However, what these teachers and counselors fail to realize is that many students are unable to commit to focusing solely on furthering their education due to financial reasons or personal responsibilities. I was one of these students. My family migrated from India to America, and being a first-generation American came with its set of responsibilities. Although my parents stressed the importance of pursuing education, I did not have the luxury of solely focusing on my education.

a row of red arrows pointing forward into a blue sky with clouds
Life doesn’t always move in a straight line, especially for students who need to help out with a family business

I first started furthering my education at the community college level, juggling a sixteen-hour course load and working full time at my family’s business. When I wasn’t physically working at the business, I was managing the businesses finances and employees. It was a grueling time. Then, right when I was preparing to transfer to a four-year university and complete my degree, I was told I had not taken the correct classes to transfer. I thought to myself, “How is this possible? I took all the classes the counselors said I needed.” I later found out that my counselors had made a mistake, and the required classes had changed before I could transfer in my credits.

Cartoon man pushing a
Sometimes it seemed like every time I got ready to move forward with my education, the rules changed – and I was back where I started.

During this time, I was at the lowest point I had ever been throughout the course of my educational career, and I wondered whether I would ever find a path forward. Luckily, I found National University. National University accepted all the credits I had previously taken, and gave me an opportunity to complete my education at an accelerated pace. The schedule and modality of National University’s four-week and eight-week intensive classes also allowed me to still help my parents run their business, which was essential. If I had to redo everything again, I would go straight to National University after completing high school. However, I would never change the extenuating circumstances I faced while pursuing my education. I believe that overcoming those circumstances has provided me a sense of confidence that, no matter what issue arises, I will be able to adapt and overcome.