Western Illinois University

Janet Machuca (2018)

My First Generation Story

“Make a name for yourself and break the cycle—that is our main wish for you. We have no doubts that you have the power to work hard and truly become someone in this world. We believe in you."

That is one thing my parents told me before I left for Western Illinois University (WIU), and I always keep it in the back of my mind. I saw the desperation in my parents' eyes—desperation and hope that I could one day comprehend how they did everything for me and for my future. It was in that moment that I truly started viewing my opportunities with so much more gratitude. I know some people who are embarrassed to mention they are first generation students, but I feel honored to be able to say that I'm taking a new step for my family and doing things that my parents didn't get the chance to do.

I’m in my second semester at WIU, and it has already provided me with so many opportunities to succeed. I remember feeling nervous about transitioning into the university, but I quickly found out that professors, advisors, and other staff members all wanted me to feel welcome and to do well.

I really enjoy my classes, and I am part of the Centennial Honors College. I also live on the honors residence living floor, which has introduced me to amazing peers who share common goals. I'm going to become a resident assistant (RA) next year, as this is an amazing opportunity that will allow me to take a leadership role, as well as make more connections at WIU. I am also a member of the student organization, Western’s First Generation Society. When I joined, I was happy to learn I wasn't alone in taking this new step in my life. The club has motivated and inspired me.

I give much gratitude to Western, and I can't picture myself being at another institution that cares more about the success of students than WIU does. I am in a place where I can be myself and be a part of a community.

About the Student

Janet Machuca Resized

Janet Machuca is from the south side of Chicago. She comes from a small, close family of four, and is the eldest child, with one younger brother. She is always excited to go out and try new things!

Student Stats

Name: Janet Machuca (2018)
Age: 18
Year in School: Freshman
Major: Accounting
Favorite Course: Sociology
Dream Job: Public Accountant

About the School

img-Janet Machuca Western Illinois University_Logo.jpg

Western Illinois University empowers students, faculty and staff to lead dynamic and diverse communities. We provide student-centered undergraduate and graduate programs characterized by innovative teaching, research and service, grounded in interdisciplinary, regional and global perspectives. We engage our students in educational opportunities guided by a professional and diverse faculty and staff in collaboration with alumni and community partners. For more information, visit wiu.edu.



  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662