Anna Gomez & Denise Gomez


anna gomez & denise gomez

“I am a little fish in a sea of people”

Anna tells her sister Denise about her feeling alone at Harvard.

 

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“I am a little fish in a sea of people”

Anna:  Student
Denise: Older Sister

Anna: I think that when I got that email, it was the last school I was waiting to hear from, and I was just excited that I had gotten into other schools, and when that email arrived, I was like, “Oh, wow, like, the little Harvard email came in, and I was like, I bet it’s just my rejection letter,” and when I opened it, like, I couldn’t say that I was excited exactly. I think I was more dumbstruck, of you know, like, this has got to be some type of mistake somehow. I was like, I think I was excited, but I think it was more, a little bit of self-doubt, I think. I think that self-doubt was, I think, unfortunately followed me into my freshman and sophomore years here, so we were talking about how our college experiences differed, but I think we had similarities in terms of our first two years of college being very difficult for us. I think I was definitely academically prepared for Harvard. And, but I don’t think I was necessarily culturally prepared just because Harvard is a university, but it is a university, but it’s very different from other universities as well. So it was the first time that I was surrounded by so much wealth. First time that I felt like other students, especially students who had gone to boarding school or private school, knew what they were doing like straight off the bat, and I just felt so uncomfortable. I didn't know how to have conversations with other people. I felt like they were, I felt alone, just like you felt alone in your first two years, I felt really alone in those two years, and I think I tried to hide that loneliness my first two years by like getting super involved in leadership roles on campus, and I think I used that as, “Oh, I’m involved, and I’m super active on campus,” but I think I never really gave myself the time to really evaluate if I was happy, so I think, yeah, I think those two years were really, really tough.  And that I.  Yeah, I felt alone. So like, and I think I felt guilty, too, because I think, I think no one, no one had the expectation that I would, like, feel such loneliness, I think. I think I was just my own worst enemy because basically my whole identity was around achievement. I had done well in school, and that was kind of how I had formed my identity, and then all of a sudden, I’m surrounded, I’m this little fish in a sea of people, and I was just full of self-doubt and I just didn’t know where I was going. I felt so lost.  So I think my last question would be like, it came to a point into my junior year, in the middle of my fall, that I decided that I just couldn’t any more. I was so unhappy, and I was just struggling so badly, and I told you and Nancy and our parents that I wanted to take a voluntary leave because I really just needed time to like figure out like what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to waste my next two years at Harvard kind of just feeling like I’m just keeping my head above the water and feeling like I’m floating around purposeless.

Note about copyright, attribution, and citation:  StoryCorps holds the copyright to the audio recordings of interviews and to the photographs of the participants; StoryCorps has licensed limited use of those to the Bureau of Study Counsel/Harvard University.  Harvard University owns the copyright to all other material on the First-Gen Voices website (bsc.harvard.edu/first-gen-voices).  Quotations of the transcripts and translations of interviews from the website by parties other than StoryCorps and the Bureau of Study Counsel should be attributed/cited as follows: “This excerpt is from a website created by the Bureau of Study Counsel of Harvard University with interviews recorded by StoryCorps (www.storycorps.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

 


anna gomez & denise gomez

The proudest decision

Anna talks about having hidden her feelings from her family and friends.

 

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The proudest decision

Anna:  Student
Denise: Older Sister

Anna: I think that was definitely, like, probably the best and probably the proudest decision I ever made. And I think the reason why like it was such a shock for you guys is because, like, for some reason I felt like mentioning how much I was struggling I think in school, just how much I felt like out of place, I felt like that was somehow like a burden on you guys, or, like, I didn’t want to disappoint you guys, so I just didn’t mention it. So I would, I would just say all the good things that were happening in my life but kind of would omit the other things that I was kind of worried about. And I like, I knew there are resources on campus, but I didn’t know when or, when or how or what’s a good enough reason to use the resources on campus. So I kind of, you know, I just, I bottled it up inside, and like, I think it was also a shock to my roommates as well ‘cause they consider me like the “mom” of our roommate group, and I think everything was, everything seemed find, and so I think they didn’t expect me to take time off either. But yeah, I, I think at that point, I felt like, I didn’t know what I wanted to, I knew I was still interested in government. I just didn’t know what I wanted from Harvard. I didn't know what I wanted to do after Harvard. So I just really wanted to a) take time off to figure out, okay, Why, Why am I not happy here? What do I need to change? What do I want to do with my next two years? My interests have kind of changed – I don’t want to be a diplomat anymore, but then what? And I can take as many classes as I want, but if I don’t explore other career paths, like, I have no idea where I’m trying to aim to, where I’m trying to go. So, yeah, I took time off during my junior fall, did internships to try to figure that out, which was amazingly useful and really gave me some direction of where I wanted to go. I felt like 2015 was a) the hardest year I’ve ever had but also the year that I had the most growth I think as well.

Note about copyright, attribution, and citation:  StoryCorps holds the copyright to the audio recordings of interviews and to the photographs of the participants; StoryCorps has licensed limited use of those to the Bureau of Study Counsel/Harvard University.  Harvard University owns the copyright to all other material on the First-Gen Voices website (bsc.harvard.edu/first-gen-voices).  Quotations of the transcripts and translations of interviews from the website by parties other than StoryCorps and the Bureau of Study Counsel should be attributed/cited as follows: “This excerpt is from a website created by the Bureau of Study Counsel of Harvard University with interviews recorded by StoryCorps (www.storycorps.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

 


anna gomez & denise gomez

Carrying the weight of our American dream

Anna reflects on being the first Latina from Dallas to attend Harvard in decades.

 

 

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Carrying the weight of our American dream

Anna:  Student
Denise: Older Sister

Denise: Coming back from that gap year, and, you came back last fall?

Anna: Last fall.  Fall 2015.

Denise: So how, what’s the before, and what was the after?

Anna: I think before was like a girl that felt like she was the admissions mistake. We have a saying here at Harvard of like “sophomore slump,” of, you know, freshman year is all fine and dandy and happy, but then you kind of fall into this slump, you’re just in a rut, and nothing is going right, and I think I never fell out of that rut. I think it was like, I was going into my junior year and, this is about to be a three-year rut. And so I felt like, I don’t know, I felt like I was just deeply unhappy and unsure and felt a lot of pressure just because I felt like I, it’s not just me going to Harvard, but my family, my community. Like I’m the only person from our school district, from Oak Cliff, one of the few Latinas in Dallas to go to Harvard, one of the few people in like several decades from where we come from that has come to Harvard. And I feel like I’m carrying that weight from me, carrying that weight on my shoulders, also carrying the weight of like our American Dream as well. So yeah, I think, I’m going away, I think my first two years before my gap year, I think that’s what I was carrying, and I think after that, I think I realized that while I might be carrying those things, I’m also kind of my own person as well. That I can have my own dreams. That like I don’t have to make all of my decisions based off of, you know, “Oh, I’m kind of representing my community,” and I think it’s finding that independence that, after my gap year and figuring out “Oh, this is, these are what my interests are, not necessarily what I think society or what my community thinks I should be studying or what, where I should be, but this is coming from me and my heart.” So I think I definitely did a 180 during that time.

Note about copyright, attribution, and citation:  StoryCorps holds the copyright to the audio recordings of interviews and to the photographs of the participants; StoryCorps has licensed limited use of those to the Bureau of Study Counsel/Harvard University.  Harvard University owns the copyright to all other material on the First-Gen Voices website (bsc.harvard.edu/first-gen-voices).  Quotations of the transcripts and translations of interviews from the website by parties other than StoryCorps and the Bureau of Study Counsel should be attributed/cited as follows: “This excerpt is from a website created by the Bureau of Study Counsel of Harvard University with interviews recorded by StoryCorps (www.storycorps.org), a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity's stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”

 

 

first-gen voices

First Gen Voices

The Bureau of Study Counsel collaborated with StoryCorps to record conversations between first-generation-to-college Harvard College juniors and their parents (or other members of their family or community).

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