Part 3: Choosing a Career or a Cultural Identity

Discussing the intersection of career and heritage.

I identify as a Filipina American, First Generation born in the United States of America and First Generation college student.  My initial aspirations when going to college was to major in Nursing.  Afterall, it is a family tradition to work in the healthcare industry. I have pictures of me playing doctor. I volunteered my summers to work in a local hospital. My Mom is a retired Pharmacist.  I was born in the hospital that my Mom worked at.  I thought it was my obligation and duty to my family to follow in their professional footsteps.

It wasn’t until my first year of college that I was able to explore, untangle, and further understand my cultural identity as it related to what I was studying and ultimately the career path I would choose. I realized that I hadn’t had a chance to explore other career options outside of the healthcare industry. I had only spoken to my family about their experiences. I worried about how any change in career path would be received by my family. Ultimately, I knew that I wanted to help people. I started talking to professors, advisors and campus job supervisors about their career journey.  I spoke to my friend’s parents about why they were passionate about the work they did. If something that they said piqued my interests or resonated with my passions, I asked them where I could find more information or how to make other connections. I conducted so many informational interviews. These conversations were key in my own personal and professional development as well as understanding my own cultural identity. 

This is what I learned in my career exploration. Not all Filipinos were in the healthcare industry. My cultural identity does not equate to a profession. I needed the room to discover my own personal strengths, skills and passion. I needed the advice from mentors, professors and advisors. I’m proud to be Filipina. My family loves me no matter what career path I choose.  

April Robles

Tomorrow – Part 4: The Importance of APIDA College Student Cultural Socialization