First in Family

Allen Harrison

Julio Monterroso '10

Port Chester, N.Y.

I grew up in a single parent household alongside my older brother. My mother worked several jobs to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. From early childhood my mother always encouraged me to do well in school and to, more importantly, obtain a college degree.

Growing up, I always knew that I wanted go to college. In my senior year of high school I applied to several schools and got into most of them. Despite this, I had no idea where or what I wanted to study. I recall sitting at home browsing through my acceptance letters and reminiscing about my high school life and where I wanted to be in ten years. My heart told me to follow my creativity and love for art, yet my mind questioned whether I would be able to make a career out of it. My brother, a third-year student at Hamilton College at the time, told me that Hamilton was a place that inspired creativity and opened a world of opportunities for students. As a liberal arts college it was a place where I could take art classes but at the same time find the career that I was looking for. I had made up my mind; I was going to Hamilton College.

During my first year at Hamilton, I took several courses ranging from calculus to Hispanic studies and amongst them were art classes. The professors and staff within the art department became some of the most influential people I have met at Hamilton College. It inspired me to become a studio art major. After declaring my major in the spring of my sophomore year, I was tasked with telling my mother what I had declared. I was nervous since my brother had graduated from Hamilton as an economics major. After I told her what I declared there was a long and silent pause. She then said to me "¿Y que vas a hacer con eso?" What are you going to do with that? I then explained to her that Hamilton College had opened a world of imagination for me and both my heart and mind were in sync with the decision. Even though my mother did not fully understand the reasoning behind my decision, she understood that I was following my heart so she supported my every decision, and I love her for that.

During my junior year at Hamilton College I had the opportunity to go on the Hamilton College in New York City Program. This off-campus study gave me the opportunity to have a taste of what life would be like after college.

Now that I am a senior, I look back and think about all the people that I have met along the way. The friendships and bonds that I have made at Hamilton College will last me a lifetime. Hamilton has led me on a path to a bright and prosperous future. I am proud to say that I am a first generation college student at Hamilton College.

— August 2009