Meet Natalia Koval

Photo Credit: Natalia Koval
Thu, 11/07/2019 - 12:39

Majors: Mathematics and actuarial science (COB)
Hometown: Palatine, Illinois

As the first member of her family to attend college, Natalia navigated the uncertainties of applications, campus visits and admission deadlines without any of that support. Her parents were often just as confused about the process as she was.

Natalia's first language is Ukrainian, so often she would find herself splitting her time at college information sessions between taking in the information for herself and translating it for her parents. While they can speak English, some of the jargon and specific language used for topics like financial aid were difficult to understand. "Even for native speakers, it's hard," Natalia said.

But getting into college wasn't the only obstacle Natalia would have to overcome. Once on campus, she dealt with imposter syndrome and the fear of embarrassing herself among her classmates who were more comfortable with navigating college life. She felt like she was Googling terms every other second just to understand the many acronyms and phrases used across higher ed.

Luckily, she found a program that helped her adjust. First Husker allowed her to be a part of a community of other first-generation students. The program also helped connect Natalia to campus resources, financial aid information and seminars on study skills. Without the supportive network of First Husker, Natalia knows her first year would have been completely different. "That's a really helpful thing to have, and without it I'd really be lost."