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Single Mom, First-Gen Student Paving Way for Her Son


In advance of Salt Lake Community College’s Nov. 7 celebration of first-generation students, the college is featuring personal stories of its own first-generation students. This is Natoya’s story.

Natoya Chung 

Age:
35

Hometown:
Spanish Town, Jamaica

A brief family history:
I am originally from Spanish Town, Jamaica. I was raised in Bronx, New York until I was 12. I then moved to Utah to live with my aunt and cousins. Living in New York was hard as I had lived with my grandma whom did a live-in job as a nanny. I stayed with a friend’s mom during the week and came home on the weekends. My mom lived in Jamaica and my dad lived in upstate New York. My mom sent me to the US to have a better life and my dad at the time couldn’t raise me all alone, so my grandmother took on the responsibility. Life was rough for my family as we were all wanting a better life. Currently, I live in Utah with a 16-year-old son, who I absolutely adore. He’s my world and my everything. Being a single mom, working full-time and going to school has had its challenges, but I’m still standing strong and continuing to pave the way for my son.

Why others before you haven’t gone to college:
College is just too hard to afford and most of my family felt it wasn’t necessary.

Why you chose SLCC over other schools:
I previously attended SLCC back in 2004 and got my associates degree but didn’t know what I really wanted to do. Now I am back and want to do things the right way with all the knowledge I have gained. I chose to come back to SLCC because it was close to home, affordable and it’s always been a great school to attend.

What you like about SLCC:
I love the atmosphere and my teachers – they truly want you to succeed and are willing to help you get there.

Favorite memories/experiences so far at SLCC:
Just the opportunities to apply for scholarships and take part in the events.

What being a first-generation student means to you and others:
It is an exciting step to know you did it! Facing all the trials and tribulation just to get started. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, because I got pregnant right out of high school and had to put college on the back burner. Some saw me as, “she’ll never make nothing of herself,” “she is going to struggle for the rest of her life” and some saw me as “maybe this will make her grow up faster and make something of herself” and “she will make a big difference in that child’s life.” I had lots of negative and positive reactions. The overall experience of being a first-generation student made me proud and thankful for having the ability to pursue my education and for never taking anything for granted

What kinds of support have you found for first-generation students:
There are lots of support for first-generation students. I feel like more and more parents are pushing their kids to go to college and most of them want to fulfill that dream.

Dream job:
Eventually own my own business and become a famous model.

Plan B:
Become a Director or SVP in a corporation working in operations.

Plans after SLCC:
Complete my bachelor’s degree and to become an underwriter.

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