University Pioneers

Who are first-generation students?

First-generation students are pioneers. On their own, they bridge gaps and bring worlds together in the process. Yet the typical first-generation student does not actually exist. We have highlighted some personal stories under pseudonyms here to show that this is a diverse group of students. If you want to speak to a first-generation student in person, you can find the stories of our ambassadors in the monthly UP-date or on our Instagram page. We are aware that not everyone wants to share their story or fall under the label of first-generation student; we don’t need to, that’s what our ambassadors are for. You can also just come to UP to participate in activities or simply follow our offer, without actively participating.


“From an early age, I knew what I wanted to be later: a doctor.”

Gradually, I learnt what I had to do for that. At home, they were very proud, but they didn’t have much money to support me. Still, even the cost of such a long education could not deter me from this dream: I had to and would become a doctor. Now I am 28 and in the third year of medicine. I slipped up a bit because I had to work on my savings account and CV in between. Now I want to work on my network in order to secure a nice internship.

“At 26, I feel like really old among the undergraduates.”

In fact, I come from MBO and then moved on to HBO and WO. Even though my path has been a bit longer, I dare say I have gained some more general knowledge by now. Still, from time to time I feel some distance from student life and want to look for people who have gone through the same path as me.

“I sometimes even feel a bit alone among the group of students.

I have been inspired by the interesting classes taught by my professors at the Faculty of Social Sciences. Yet I do not yet see the material from my classes in my immediate environment. Student life as I know it does not attract me personally, but I would still like to be part of it somehow. I want to look for what exactly being a student means to me.

“Halfway through my law degree, I realised that this was not the study for me.”

However, quitting was not really an option either, because in my eyes that was tantamount to failure, and failure was not an option. Money also still plays a big role. After two degrees and a master’s, student debt weighs hugely on my shoulders. At home, they were never able to help pay for my education, so they don’t really know exactly how much student life costs. I am looking for a community where I can tell my story.

“The distance between home and university has become very great, and so I am going to look for a community that can help me develop as a person.

At home, we never really talked about it, but now that I have been at university for a while, it has become my daily routine. My time at university was the time for me to become completely myself, to finally feel good about myself and make friends. However, thresholds still exist for me at university too, while even the home front no longer quite understands what is going on.

“I don’t have much registration time at SSH and I don’t know very many people in Utrecht outside my fellow students either.”

Hi, my name is Sjoerd and I am 21 years old. I don’t live in Utrecht yet, but I would like to. Because of corona, I have put the step to student life on hold for a while. I am now looking for a room, but that is not going well yet. Many of my friends still live at home. I am therefore looking for peers in the same situation who can tell me more about the city of Utrecht and student life.