The transition to college is filled with uncertainty and excitement. Students navigate their new environment, while simultaneously creating a foundation for their future. It’s a stressful process for many individuals involving moving to a new city, making new friends, and balancing schoolwork. For some, the journey requires an extra step–moving across the world.
Undergraduate business student Victor Falcon came to Wisconsin in January 2019 to start an English program in Appleton. After completing 24 credits in the program, he applied and transferred to the University of Wisconsin–Madison to pursue a degree in business that would provide him with beneficial academic opportunities and enriching cultural experiences. Although Victor’s English program was the catalyst that allowed him to study at UW, his journey started well before he got to Wisconsin.
Victor was born and raised in Panama City and lived there until he graduated high school. Growing up he knew that learning English would help him achieve his goals in the future–the ability to provide for his family by taking over the family business. So he took it upon himself, invested in his future, and funded the opportunity to begin learning English at an early age. He continued taking classes until he graduated high school.
“I just knew that learning English would definitely help me in my future, understanding the first language that everyone has to speak. It’s not only for myself. It’s for the next generation.”
The next couple of years in Madison would prove to be both challenging and rewarding for Victor. He would learn to deal with hardships by working tirelessly to improve his academic and professional standing, isolation would provide the incentive to put himself out there and find a community, and self-doubt fueled his hard work and got him to where he is today.
Victor came to UW–Madison without having a community to fall back on. However, he showed resilience and found various outlets that provided him with a sense of community. His successful admission to the school didn’t guarantee his struggles were over. He worked endlessly to secure a spot in the Wisconsin School of Business by networking, excelling academically, and researching ways to succeed. This May, Victor will graduate from UW–Madison with degrees in supply chain management, marketing and operations, and technology management.
“Step up and go out there looking for your goals. Don’t be shy. Just go out there. Believe in yourself, it’s you against you.”
It takes immense courage to move across the world to pursue your goals. From the initial research to completing his English program, Victor worked without the guidance of others to become a first-generation college student in America. He was eager to share his story with the hope of reaching someone who needs to hear that it is possible. He emphasizes that individuals need to have the courage to keep going to accomplish their goals. The experience can feel isolating and impossible at times. Frustrations will rise–it’s how you persevere that defines your outcome.
“I want to share my experience because maybe there is someone who needs to read it. Someone who is trying to get into a good school, just like I was, someone trying to get a job, or someone trying to help his or her family. You are not alone, someone already went through what you are going through and everything is possible. If you are reading this, wherever you are in the world, remember to enjoy the journey!”
Story by: Maddie Gamble