#FirstGenFriday - Every Friday throughout the year we will be telling the stories of #FirstGenUCR faculty, staff, and students.
Today we're featuring assistant professor of theoretical physics, Flip Tanedo! "The first time I realized I was first-gen was probably the first or maybe second year of college. I realized that many of the high-achieving people around me were a step ahead because they had parents who were academics or professionals. They had stronger math and science backgrounds, already did research, knew how to talk to professors, and knew how to succeed in college. It didn't seem fair that other people already knew the roadmap to do well before they even came here. I had to figure those things out from watching other people and finding the right mentors. One thing I came to appreciate, though, is that the race we're running is a marathon and that these ended up being small differences in starting position. Over the long run, with the right support structures, we can all succeed.
College is kind of a game where no one ever sits you down and tells you the rules or strategies for success. The best advice I can give to other first generation college students is to consciously figure out what these rules and strategies are. It's not just that you show up to class at 8am and get good grades and that's it. It’s everything else: building relationships, getting experience, following great role models and seeking mentoring from people further down the road than you.
One example that UCR does very well is undergraduate research. This is something totally different from high school that I didn't appreciate going into college. And yet, research experience helps you lear where you want to take your education and it opens up doors in your career future."