By Stephanie Forth

Melissa Contreras’ status as a DACA recipient has only fueled her desires to achieve a higher education. The 22-year-old communications major is now a senior, and she attributes her will to stay in college to her ambitions and relationships she has formed throughout the past four years. According to a research report published by The Pell Institute, ​“low-income, first generation students were nearly four times more likely — 26 percent compared to 7 percent — to leave higher education after the first year than students who had neither of these factors.” Contreras is a first-generation student who was raised in a low-income household. Despite some adversity that Contreras had to face as a first-generation student, she says she has established a sense of belonging thanks to her college peers. Instead of having challenges with a sense of belonging, Contreras feels that much of the adversity she has endured comes with professors with whom she feels like do not teach in a way that is useful for all students, including herself.

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