First-Generation Student Carries His Family’s Dream with Him to USC

Johnny Flores, 17, was a student reporter with Coachella Unincorporated for four years before leaving this month to start his freshman year at the University of Southern California.
Johnny Flores, 17, was a student reporter with Coachella Unincorporated for four years before leaving this month to start his freshman year at the University of Southern California.

JOHNNY FLORES / Coachella Unincorporated

The word ‘first’ continuously surrounded me during this past year.

For starters the University of Southern California has always been my first choice of college, and that’s where I’ll be heading this fall. There, I’ll be studying at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, which is regarded as the top school for budding young journalists like myself. I will also be the first in my family to attend college. In more proper terms, I am a first generation college bound student.

So what does this all mean?

Several months ago when I embarked on the college application process, I was scared and nervous of what lay ahead. I was unsure of what to do or where to go. I carried with me the hopes, dreams, failures and fears of those in my family who came before me. For those family members, due to various circumstances, attending and paying for college was not an option. Even finishing high school and in some cases, even making it through middle school was not an option. My family members are my inspiration to be among the first in my family to be accepted and to attend college.

Now, as an admitted student to the USC, I want to be a motivation for my younger siblings as well as all of my cousins. I want them to reach for the stars and never give up. The college application process is scary and immensely difficult. I want to a shining example of the fact that anything is possible.

Johnny Flores, a Coachella Uninc. student reporter, participated in the Por Vida six-week training program to get ready for the Run with Los Muertos on Nov. 1, 2014. Here, Flores is pictured at the first Run with Los Muertos 5k last year. Photo: Coachella Uninc.
Johnny Flores, 17, actively participated in the Run with Los Muertos 5k in Coachella, Calif. in 2014 and 2013. Here, Flores is pictured at the first Run with Los Muertos 5k in 2013. Photo: Coachella Unincorporated

Never in a million years did I think that the grandson of fieldworkers and son of a custodian and homemaker could be accepted, let alone attend one of the most prestigious universities in the United States. Hard work, dedication and a whole lot of heart made this journey possible.

To inspire is to give courage, to give people something to believe in. I want to inspire my family to believe in what may seem like the impossible, and to have courage and step outside the norm. This is what being the first in my family to go to college means to me.

To view stories Flores has produced as a student reporter, visit his author page here.

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