Julisan Street stands on the brick walkway that runs between the Quad and Skillman LibraryA Lafayette-Jamaica Scholar, Julisan Street ’21 will graduate with a major in geology and minor in anthropology and sociology.

 If it weren’t for my Lafayette experience, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Initially, I felt lost. During my freshman year, Lafayette seemed like a completely different world that I never fully understood. As a first-generation college student, I didn’t really know what to expect about the “college experience” or how to navigate the intricacies of college life. I just knew I didn’t want to let down anyone who believed in me or anyone who invested even a fraction of their time into helping me get into college.

On top of that, I had to learn how to navigate American culture and what it meant to be an international student. I had to work hard to learn how to assimilate just enough to get by without forgetting who I am or where I’m coming from. Culture shock and homesickness were no longer words I was told I might experience but feelings that I came to know very well.

Julisan Street sits on a bench on campus.In terms of academics, Lafayette has given me a tremendous geological foundation. And I will be forever grateful for that, but Lafayette has also made me more aware about my own intersectional identities and how they provide the glasses I see the world through.

Being a Black female international first-generation college student, graduation for me means I can say I didn’t let my family down. I persevered even when I felt like I couldn’t or didn’t belong.

It means my mother can finally see that her words “ef yuh waan good yuh nose haffi run,” (which basically means “in order to gain success you have to work hard and sacrifice”) weren’t lost on me as a child. It means everyone who believed in me through this journey will also graduate. It means I will have to tell another home I’ve made goodbye.

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