Jose looks back on past memories, reminiscing over the time he’s spent with family. “I’m very upset [to see him go to college soon] because, when he’s gone, I won’t have anyone to talk to,” Jose’s sister, Genesis Gallegos, said. “But I will be very proud of him.”
Jose looks back on past memories, reminiscing over the time he’s spent with family. “I’m very upset [to see him go to college soon] because, when he’s gone, I won’t have anyone to talk to,” Jose’s sister, Genesis Gallegos, said. “But I will be very proud of him.”
Olivia Evans

Defying by applying

First generation student begins college application process

Senior Jose Gallegos’ eye’s search on Common App, scavenging for the button he’s been anticipating: “Create an account.” He’s already made up his mind, but before he makes the final click, a sense of surrealness hits: he’s the first. The thought rings in his head, and then all of a sudden,


Jose has solidified his goals of becoming the first one in his family to attend college. 

With applications open since Aug. 1, the opportunity Jose has been given is starting to become a reality — one he said can be overwhelming.

“[The college process has] been a little difficult for me because I don’t have anybody to ask questions to [since] my parents didn’t go to college,” Jose said. “I’m doing it all on my own. I’m playing a little bit of catch up because I’m just now starting to realize how [college applications] work.”

Jose hugs his mom, Dina, and sister, Genesis, after the band won the State Championship title in 2021. (Photo courtesy Jose Gallegos )

Jose’s mom, Dina Gallegos, has had to make several sacrifices, Jose said, many of which have gotten him to where he is today. At 13-years-old, Dina said that she experienced a culture shock when she moved back to the U.S. after leaving California to go to Mexico. She had to pick up English at a rapid pace as she was accustomed to her first language, Spanish. 

“[Moving] was hard because I didn’t know the language,” Dina said. “I didn’t know how life was here, and [there’s] a lot of differences between here and Mexico. Not knowing [anyone] and learning English at my age — it was hard.”

Jose’s grandma wasn’t met with high paying jobs after her arrival. While Jose’s grandpa remained in Mexico, she worked three jobs to put a “roof over their family’s heads.”

“Not having papers here in the U.S., [my grandparents didn’t] get glorious jobs like sitting at a desk,” Jose said. “They [had] to work in the most extreme conditions. With those sacrifices my grandparents made to get [my family] over here, I’m really appreciative. Even though my parents did have more opportunities than [my grandparents], it wasn’t like it is for me [now].”

Jose moved several times during elementary school because his parents struggled financially due to increasing rent. This caused him to not form many close knit friends early in his life. Upon going into middle school, he said he was physically and verbally bullied — in-person and online — for the way he dressed and interacted with others. 

“I feel like the only reason I am who I am today was because of what I went through,” Jose said. “During the time when I was getting bullied, I always tried to reason with the people bullying me. I was always thinking ‘Maybe they’re going through something hard; maybe they’re dealing with something I don’t know.’ Now, I always keep in mind that you never know what someone is going through. It’s a big reason as to why I always need to be nice to people.”

Despite past challenges, Jose is ranked in the top 10% of his class, part of the National Honor Society, the president of the Hands of Hope club and one of the band’s drum majors. 

“It’s very exciting to see kids who are the first in their generation to go to college,” geometry teacher Amanda Bowers said. “In my opinion, it’s like turning things around for the better and that’s what we want as teachers — to see students grow, be successful and have improvement. [Jose] set his mind to it, so I think he’s going to be successful in college and post college.”

Through the sacrifices of his grandparents and parents, Jose persists through college applications. He said reaching his goals of getting into college, becoming a nurse and helping others won’t be easy, but the opportunity he’s been given is one he can’t waste.

“First generation means defying the odds,” Jose said. “[My mom’s experiences] have inspired me to be as strong as her, be as resilient and be strong minded while also having a strong heart. She inspires me the most.”

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

“The Hawk Eye” comment section welcomes engagement from readers. Within the comment section, we are dedicated to maintaining a respectful community; therefore, we reserve the right to protect the website from: derogatory comments, comments deemed to be spam, comments that include links that lead to harmful websites, comments using vulgar language and statements that attack another person. “The Hawk Eye” has the right to protect the website through removing comments that are viewed as harmful. We will make every effort to maintain the integrity of the comment section by allowing as many comments as possible, but if a comment violates the comment policy, we reserve the right to edit or delete the comment at any time without notice. If you feel your comment has been excluded, edited or removed by error, please contact us through our contact form.
All The Hawk Eye Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *