So you’ve made it. You’ve made it to first year university or first year college. Maybe it’s not your FIRST first year. Maybe it’s your second try at a different program or different institution. Maybe you are first generation first year. Whatever your case may be, you are in first year!
I remember my first year of college. I also remember my first year of university. I had to overcome many obstacles and many personal challenges. Yet, I didn’t do this alone. There were many times that I thought I was in this alone and you may think that too. If there is one thing I do not regret doing, it was asking for help. That is my number one tip for you: don’t be afraid to ask for help! You may need help understanding how to read a syllabus or learning how to use a student planner or even trying to plan your study schedule. Whatever it is you need help with, I could bet you a million dollars there is someone or something on campus that can help you! And what if there isn’t? Create something to help others! Trust me, it will make you feel good (and will also look good on your future scholarship applications that I know you will be applying too)! Say what? You won’t be needing to apply to scholarship applications? Apply anyways! The one person who can help you with that is someone in financial services on your campus.
Another friend to make is with the librarian. I know that some of you will be doing research projects or need to look up more information on a particular subject, and I know the best person who knows how to help you find more information is… You guessed it: the librarian! Also don’t forget to make tonnes of other friends outside of the library 😉
Another big awesome tip? Don’t give up. I wanted to give up so many times. I wanted to give up after hearing all the stereotypical comments about indigenous people in class. I wanted to give up after I received my first 50 on an exam. I wanted to give up after losing my job. I wanted to give up after …. Trust me when I say I wanted to give up a whole lotta times, it was a WHOLE lot of times. Giving up is easy to do, and you may feel like giving up because “what’s the point?” The point is that education is the key to help elevate our communities, our people, our children. It is the key to help better our nations as a whole. Without education, you miss out on life experiences that are not always available to those who do not have access to education. Education is a life experience and is a life journey.
All in all, if there is one piece of advice that I enjoyed receiving on my first day of university and that has stuck with me from day one was that it is not your duty to educate EVERYONE on ALL indigenous issues. I have many people coming up to me asking for my opinion or my advice (I thought, “and heck, I am not even part of any particular group… I am just another Indigenous student.”). But by being an Indigenous student, you are someone that holds access to valuable knowledge and has valuable life experiences that these institutions are sometimes trying to tap into. Don’t be afraid to offer your help or your knowledge. However, in the same breathe, don’t be afraid to say “No!” because you feel that you are being taken advantage of or you feel like you are just another “token Indian.” Trust me, I have felt that way and in most instances I was right in declining to offer my help or declining to offer help anymore. You make the decision to offer your help and your knowledge where and when it is needed. You are the one calling the shots!
And remember, You are only one person; you are not in this alone. First year is supposed to be fun but it is also supposed to be the way into a whole new world of opportunities! Don’t forget to have fun and don’t forget to call home! Enjoy your first year kweok!