Jay Arzu: First-Gen Voices

Today is Proof Point Day! Thanks again for joining us for our next installment of First-Gen Voices, as we celebrate the accomplishments of our first-generation college graduates.

We’re proud to see an increase in the conversations taking place nationally about the unique experiences of first-gen students, and how their stories of success can inspire the next generation.

Let us introduce you to one more Summer Searcher who is an inspiring proof point of first-gen success. #ProofPointDay

Jaquan “Jay” Arzu

Jay was raised in the Bronx with his three younger brothers and his single mother, who worked as a school security officer.

Growing up, Jay never really thought that he could go to college because his family didn’t have the financial resources to support that dream. Jay says that Summer Search helped turn those dreams into reality by helping him find the right school and the right scholarships to support his higher learning aspirations.

In fact, just this past Saturday, Jay completed one of those dreams by graduating from Marist College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science!

Jay was so proud to celebrate this milestone with many members of his family, who were able to make the trip to upstate New York thanks in part to the free lodging provided by our partners at Airbnb.

Jay reflected on the support his family provided him along the way, saying “I think about my heritage and my family when I think about being a first-gen student. I can honestly say that I never thought that I would live past 18 years old and to be able to attend a prestigious four-year university. It feels like a miracle to me… I wasn’t supposed to make it, but I did! And I thank my family every day for how hard they were on me about my education.”

Jay’s next step in his education will be completing his Master’s of Public Administration, which he will earn as a Fulbright Scholar in Milan, Italy this fall.

But before that, like Karla, Jay will head back to Washington, DC to follow his fiery passion for public policy — a passion that was originally stoked on his second summer trip to Junior Statesmen Summer School at Georgetown University, 

This summer he will get the chance to build on his political work experience (which he earned last summer with the House of Representatives), by working as an intern for U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.

Just going to college was a dream that Jay never thought would be possible. Now he is a shining example, like his fellow first-gen Summer Searcher Karla, that anything is possible and that you can dream as big as you want!

Well, that’s it! With 92% of Summer Searchers being first-gen, we could go on and on, like one of our favorite Erykah Badu songs… so be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for many more #ProofPointDay #FirstGen celebrations.

And to all the other first-gen leaders out there — be vocal, be visible and share your story!