First-gen student Kyle Balingit: ‘I want to give back to my family’

portrait of kyle balingit

Kyle Balingit, 18, is a first-year student from Sacramento, California. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

“I’m a first-generation college student. I was always pushed to go to college as a child. I never thought much about it until middle school, when my teacher told us how, when she went to college, she had the opportunity to better her life, her parents’ lives and her future family’s life.

I want to give back to my family. They’ve sacrificed a lot. We all moved from the Philippines when I was 7. The first place we lived was the Bay Area. We struggled a lot. My parents worked double-time — in fast food, construction, until they eventually found a permanent career in the casino business.

I remember when I told them I was going to Berkeley, they were like, ‘What’s Berkeley?’ I had to explain to them what it is. Eventually they said, ‘Wow, you’re really going to the number one public school?’ ‘Yes, Mom and Dad, I really am.’ They’re very proud of me.

I do feel pressure as the first person in my family going to college, but I’ll probably get through it. I want to be a good role model to my brothers — they’re 16 and 7.

I’m interested in joining the Pilipinx programs on campus. Yesterday was my orientation, and I applied to two of the Pilipino organizations — Pilipino American Alliance (PAA) and Pilipinx Academic Student Services (PASS). It helps build a community: Because Filipino students make up such a small part of the student body at Berkeley, we want a place where Pilipino students can come and find a place where they can express themselves through their Pilipino culture.”