Humans of UMBC: First-Gen Edition December 2020

Kabira Barlow

A portrait of Kabira Barlow

Introducing Kabira Barlow! Kabira works in the Department of Theatre after graduating in 2018 from American University with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She hopes to return to school for her Master’s in Strategic Communications and Work in entertainment.

“I really struggled when I first got to university because I felt like a small fish in such a big pond. I had also placed a lot of pressure on myself to make my family proud. It got a lot easier when I stopped thinking of attending school as a first-generation student in the context of something I was doing for my family, but instead framing it as something I was doing for myself. I wish I had someone to tell me about the emotional and mental toll university can have and how important self-care is as a student.

My school was very competitive so there were students who were freshmen like me who had already secured their first internships and already seemed to know exactly what they needed to do to set themselves on the right trajectory. I worked through most of college and did not have my first internship until my second semester of senior year. There were several times where I felt inadequate compared to my peers and that I was being left behind. I learned to not be so hard on myself and got comfortable at going at my own pace and not spending my time trying to catch-up to others.”

When asked what being First Generation means to her, Kabira responded, “…faith and the manifestation of my dreams.” Kabira quoted a phrase dear to her, “I am my ancestor’s greatest dream” honing in that being First Generation is something special and both an individual and shared experience. You get to decide how to live it. “REVEL in it. You DID that!” exclaimed Kabira.

Most importantly, Kabira emphasized if she were to go back, “I would try not to put so much pressure on myself in the beginning and would stop comparing myself to others so much.” 

What would you like to see more of? Answer: I would like to see more resources just about what to expect from university in general. As a first-gen student I didn’t have too many to talk to about what college was going to be like and it kind of felt like being thrown into the lake and hoping you figure out how to swim.

Favorite movie? Answer: My favorite movie is Singin’ In The Rain I love anything with Gene Kelly!

Favorite food? My favorite food is pasta! Any and all pasta!