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Hard-working student shoulders a load working while attending Ivy League college

Students Rising Above: Elmer Sosa
Students Rising Above: Elmer Sosa 03:14

SAN FRANCISCO -- Some students who are the first in their families to go to college face the challenge of balancing a rigorous academic load while still working to help support their family back home.

Students Rising Above scholar Elmer Sosa knows the feeling well. The moment he was old enough to earn a paycheck, he had a job. In high school, he worked at Chick-Fil-A, Texas Roadhouse and other food service jobs in high school.

Now that he's in college he continues to work different jobs. Hard work is in his blood.

Sosa's parents immigrated from Guerrero, Mexico and worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. 

"My parents have always had the expectation of coming here to allow their children to have really great opportunities," he said.

Providing those opportunities meant making sacrifices. "I feel like growing up has been a balance of you know trying to be there for my family, but also focusing on working so we can accomplish my goals," Sosa said.

Sosa is a student at Dartmouth College, a prestigious Ivy League school. The first year wasn't easy, saddled with the pressure that often comes with being a first-generation college student.

"I feel guilty sometimes, because I go to a really prestigious school. With all the opportunities, you want to be able to help out you family in some sort of way," he recalled.

Sosa almost transferred out of Dartmouth. He credits Students Rising Above for not only helping him get into college, but giving him the tools to help him stay there.

Now, when he is not working or going to school, he is volunteering his time to help other students in SRA. 

"I have seen firsthand the lack of resources in our schools across the Bay Area, especially in underserved communities," Sosa said.

After he graduates, Sosa plans to pursue a career in computer science or engineering.

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