First-Generation Honors Student Story: Jessica Ison

First-Generation UC Davis Honors Student Jessica Ison
First-Generation UC Davis Honors Student Jessica Ison. Photo credit: Daniel Oberbauer

University Honors Program first-generation college student Jessica Ison

Environmental Toxicology, Class of '22

My story has many roots. My mom was born in the Philippines and my dad was born in Oahu; his family were farmers in Hawaii. I was born in San Francisco but raised in Fairfield, California. My parents had their first child, my older brother, at 20 and 21. They weren't even married yet and did not have college degrees either; neither of them had a degree nearly three years later when I was born. Not all of my parents' family members were supportive, but it could have been worse.

My parents moved us out to Fairfield in 2001 to escape family issues back in San Francisco, and spent nearly every penny to get the house we live in now. My dad worked as a mechanic and my mom eventually found a job in administration for Kaiser Permanente. 

I think, in a sense, my parents were refugees in a war they did not ask to be in. I think this is always the case. It was a war of finances and family, as well as survival in this newly found parenthood. But my parents survived it all and sacrificed so much in the process.

I specifically chose Davis because it's a great school for my major, one of the few schools to have this major, and the inclusiveness here is just so incredible. They are supportive of marginalized communities, including first generation students. In addition, I received a Jastro Scholarship and admission into their Honors program.


Read the full article at the First-Generation Initiative website