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First-Gen Reflections: Karinna De La Cruz

First-Gen Reflections: Karinna De La Cruz

First-Gen Reflections: This summer we are sharing stories and reflections from DCP alumni who just graduated from college. 

Karinna De La Cruz

DCP El Primero High School '17, American University '21

"On May 9, 2021 I received my two degrees in Psychology and Justice & Law with a concentration in Criminology from American University. I am proud to be a first generation college graduate; a 3rd generation Mexican-American graduate from a private PWI (predominantly white institution).

Without the same financial privilege as my peers this has been a lifelong goal of mine, not to just graduate but to overcome the generational trauma within my own family: incarceration, drug addiction, and the list can go on - as is with many other families.

I now can say I broke the generational cycle.

Photos: (L) Karinna's preschool graduation. (R) Karinna's DCP senior portrait with her grandfather. 

In my four years of college I remained fearless. I left my comfort zone and moved to Washington DC. I asked for help when I needed it. When I wanted to give up I surrounded myself with encouraging and loving individuals. When I wanted to study abroad in Scotland I didn’t let my inexperience of international travel stop me. I took on the workload of two degrees while juggling part time jobs. College is by far not easy. Perseverance, dedication, and commitment are necessary but so is maintaining a strong support system - a community.

Photos: Karinna studied abroad in Scotland and visited 5 countries.  

Thank you to my teachers at DCP who listened to my story and provided a platform for me to shine and have a voice in MY future. I also would like to thank my grandfather for being my rock in life and even when he did not agree with every decision, his unconditional love never faded.

First generation college students embody strength and will.

While my undergraduate experience is complete and I have accomplished a lot, my journey is not over. I hope to see future first generation college students continue to put in the work to break the mental and systemic barriers while living out their goals and dreams".

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