My Pandemic Story: A First-Generation College Student Whose Summer Orientation May Be Canceled

Angelica Estevez, a first-generation immigrant and senior at Girls’ High, on starting at Cornell in the fall.

college orientation cancelled

A high school senior who may have her college orientation cancelled due to coronavirus.

Published as a part of the “This Is My Pandemic Story” article in the May issue of Philadelphia Magazine. Here, Angelica Estevez, a senior at Girls’ High, shares her experience.

I think the first time I heard the word “coronavirus” was probably the middle of February, on Instagram. People began to post about China and the lockdown. I didn’t think much about it, because I didn’t know what the word meant. In the beginning of March, my AP biology teacher showed us a video about coronaviruses. That’s when I began to understand the situation.

I’m going to be attending Cornell University next year. I was admitted for mechanical engineering, but I also like electrical engineering as well as computer engineering. I’m still, like, trying to see, out of the three, which is a better fit. I was going to join a Prefreshman Summer Program. I was really excited about that, because I’m a first-generation college student and also a first-generation immigrant. My family is from the Dominican Republic, and my dad and I, we’ve been here since 2013. My grandma was the one who brought us here; she’s been here for, I don’t know, 15 years?

I knew I was going to Cornell since December. I was looking forward to visiting the college, because I haven’t been there before. And I was looking forward to spring break,
and graduation, and spring sports and prom. It’s really upsetting, because there’s not much we can do. The sentiment among my friends — it’s like we’re just kind of sad. The last day we went to school was March 12th. We wish we would have known. It’s kind of like, Wow, I won’t get
to see you again. It’s our last time together. We didn’t get to say a proper goodbye.

The hardest thing for me has been losing the routine. The thing I like about school is, it gives me consistency. I wake up. I go to school. I do sports after school. I come home. I do homework. With the quarantine, it has been really hard keeping my sleeping schedule the same, or meals the same, or even having the motivation to do the remote optional work that we have. The first week, my friends and I mostly kept in touch. But I feel like people are doing different things on their own. We do reach out here and there.

The hardest part is for my mom, because she’s still working. It has been really challenging to see her juggle between staying home or continuing to go to work, because it’s to pay the rent. She works at a factory where they might start making face masks. She doesn’t tell me much about it. My dad works as a custodian at a local college, but the universities are closed.

This is probably going to make me more self-dependent. At school, you have teachers there to teach you. The big thing for me now is finding my own motivation, having to rely on myself to reach my goals.

Published as part of the “This Is My Pandemic Story” feature in the May 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.