Being low-income and first-generation heavily influenced my decision to attend Princeton, but there is so much more about Princeton that makes me stay.
Finances were the most important to me because I come from a low-income single parent household. My mother works for everything that my family has. Asking her to provide money for me to experience things like an unpaid internship or study abroad would be a lot for my family to handle, even though such experiences could help my academic, personal and professional growth. Princeton, however, provides many financially friendly opportunities such as Princeternships, study abroad programs, Breakout Princeton trips during breaks and PICS internships. Financial aid at Princeton is need-based, meaning the University awards students financial aid based on their individual needs. I chose Princeton because it afforded me and my family the financial freedom to help me further my academic endeavors. I could not in a million years afford to go to college without heavy loans, but with a generous aid package for undergrad, I can now think about attending graduate school.
Moreover, I also liked Princeton’s commitment to undergraduate education, the medium size of the school along with the student-to-faculty ratio. The resources at Princeton are unmatched. From the faculty who are hands-on in helping students cultivate their ideas and offering additional guidance during office hours, to the McGraw Center or The Writing Center; there is so much assistance, community and guidance tailored to each student’s needs. As a first-generation student, there is so much I do not know in terms of access, opportunities, finances, networking and even basic knowledge about jobs and fellowships. Being in a place with guidance and access to resources is important to me because it makes all the difference when you just don’t know what you don’t know.
Why I came is important, but why I chose to stay is also of value. I chose to stay at Princeton because of the community, academic rigor and growth I've experienced here were unprecedented. I am very big on community and Princeton has provided me with the spaces where I am able to be myself while exploring different facets of my identity, the ways I learn and my academic interests. I feel like the spirit in the Black community here is truly special. We are all supporting each other and want everyone to win. I’ve met some of the most inspirational and motivating professors and students. I’ve also been able to travel to France and Puerto Rico during my time here even as a low-income student. Being at Princeton with financial freedom allows me to enjoy my college experience without worrying about money. I feel like I am where I'm supposed to be.