Opinion: My degree means nothing to me

Julisa Muñoz, Social Media Director

Illustration by Julisa Muñoz / The Runner

 Why is it that I don’t feel like graduating and getting my degree is a big deal? I should feel proud and excited to be a first-generation Mexican woman receiving her bachelor’s degree, but instead, I feel nothing.

    Is it because going to school is all I’ve known since I was 5 years old and don’t see finishing as the huge accomplishment everyone makes it out to be?

    For most, when we graduate high school, we go straight to college because it’s the lifestyle that is promoted to us all throughout our years at high school. There hasn’t been a time where I thought and felt that I had the option to do anything else.

    Is it because there is some sort of burnout that I don’t even realize I’m experiencing? All of my days consist of going to school, driving 30 minutes home, changing into my work clothes and then driving straight to work.

    In a research article about burnout, faculty of Psychology and Education Science at Transilvania University of Braşov found that there is higher potential for burn out and depression in students who have jobs because they are juggling the demands of work and school. The effects are more prevalent in students who work for 20 hours or more per week.

    I haven’t necessarily felt stressed – up until the past month – but I do feel it is extremely repetitive: it doesn’t give me any time to do the things I want to do, like stay at home all day without worrying about when the next assignment is due or what time I have to be at work.

    I don’t feel that my situation is severe enough for it to even be considered exhaustion or, let alone, burnout.

    Could it be the lack of support from the people in my life? It’s not that the people in my life don’t support me or are against me going to school, but it seems like they don’t care.

    My parents don’t know anything about my academic career, not even what my major is. All my parents know is that I’m going to school and spend all my time either there or at work.

    I feel like I have been on this entire journey on my own and even though it had no impact in the moment, my thoughts are spiraling as I write this.

    Upcoming graduate Yosemiri Valenzuela, says “I did have a support system through tough times. It was my friends. Their support meant a lot to me since we were going through the same situation.”

    It doesn’t feel fair to say that my family doesn’t care because I’m sure they do, it just may be hard for them to relate to my experience.

    A fellow graduate in my senior seminar class is doing their final project on students who are first-generation graduates that experience imposter syndrome, and it made me think: Is this why I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything major?

    In the article “CSULB’s first-generation students overcome ‘imposter syndrome’,” first-year graduate student Cristy Tran said that the biggest struggle she faced was the disconnect between the differing experiences her and her family had.

    As a first-generation student, I have no reference to what going to college and getting my degree should look like. Neither of my parents went to high school due to lack of resources in Mexico, while my older sister dropped out after a semester.

    No one in my household knows what it is like to be a university student. They also don’t know what it is like to be a full-time student who is working 5-6 days of the week.

    Maybe they all play a factor into why I don’t feel like I’m completing a major milestone in my life, but feeling this way is making me have a sort of existential crisis three weeks before graduation.

    I, at no point, felt like getting my degree was pointless. I just simply don’t see it as a monumental achievement.

    To me, it feels like it’s a part of living and something we have to do. The only thing I am certain of is that I love communications, and everything related to communication studies. I may not find personal value to my degree, but I truly value everything I’ve learned about the communications field.