Northeastern Illinois University

Carolyn Bernal (2011)

My First Generation Story

“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall sure acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it in the beginning.” – Gandhi

Being the first in my family to attend college is a huge privilege. Being a minority in this country and, at times, feeling discriminated against, I am proud of myself. I also love to show my parents that we can do it too. My parents have always encouraged me to go to school; without them, I do not think I would have made it this far.

My mom and dad did not attend college. My mom has told me her reasons for not attending. It was expensive. She had to the chance to attend a public college in Guatemala—which was free—but the books were expensive. Her parents did not encourage her either. My grandma would tell her that as a woman, she did not have to attend college because a woman’s job was to help out her husband. Her parents viewed college as a waste of money because women would marry at an early age and then drop out of school. My father finished high school. After his mother passed away when he was eight, he thought of leaving Mexico to come to the United States to make a better life. In their mid-twenties my parents met and conceived me.

One of the goals I will accomplish is my bachelor’s degree in communication,
media and theatre. The other goal I have set is getting my master’s in communication. With this I would love to work for a Spanish-speaking radio station. I want to talk to my people and let them know that everything in life is possible. I would also love to inform our young adults about HIV, hepatitis and substance abuse—especially in the Hispanic community, because in Hispanic culture talking about sex or drugs is taboo. I know I will be capable of achieving my goals. I have made it this far, so why stop now?

Northeastern Illinois University has helped me a lot. I love the faculty from the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre. I feel like everyone bonds well. I see them as family. I have a couple of professors who have helped me in every way I could imagine. The CMT department has also helped me financially. I received a scholarship from them. With this, I can pursue higher education even more.

About the Student

Carolyn Bernal

Of Mexican-Guatemalan descent, Carolyn was born and raised in Chicago. She is currently working on her BA in communication, media and theatre—with a minor in media—at Northeastern Illinois University. She was added to the Dean’s List of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northeastern Illinois University. In January 2010, Carolyn was awarded a Talent/Special Skills Scholarship from the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre. Carolyn’s academic accomplishments are listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. In the summer of 2010 she had the opportunity to get an internship with Univision Chicago. Carolyn has also been a part of the Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre Company since 2004, and she continues with her Spanish dance training as an apprentice.

Student Stats

Name: Carolyn Bernal (2011)
Age: 22
Year in School: Senior
Major: Communication, Media and Theatre
Favorite Course: Family Communication
Dream Job: Radio Host

About the School

NIU logo

Like many institutions of higher learning, NEIU traces its roots to the beginning of teacher training. Northeastern was founded in 1867 in Blue Island, Illinois, as the Normal School, Cook County’s first teacher training institution. NEIU has a rich tradition of educational innovation and prides itself in preparing teachers and administrators who make a difference in Chicago. That tradition continues to this day and has expanded to include all of the University’s academic disciplines, allowing the University to fully embrace the community in which it resides.



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