The Charger Blog

First-Generation Student Encourages ‘Be the First to Start a Great Legacy’

Meet Ariana Eastwood ’23, the first person in her family to go to college, who is passionate about ensuring a welcoming environment for her fellow Chargers and who aspires to one day work for the FBI.

December 15, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Ariana Eastwood with other orientaiton leaders.
Ariana Eastwood (second from left) welcomed new students to the University as an orientation leader.

As a teenager, Ariana Eastwood ’23 loved to do puzzles. Knowing she had all the pieces and that she was in control of figuring out how they’d come together intrigued her. When she took a forensic science class in high school, she knew she’d found a way to turn her love of solving puzzles into a career.

Image of Ariana Eastwood ’23.
Ariana Eastwood ’23.

When it came time to choose a college, Eastwood was piecing together a future that no one in her family had followed before. She is the first in her family to go to college, something that is very meaningful to her and, she said, to her mother and grandmother, who raised her.

“They have always instilled it in me to live a better life than the ones that they had,” said Eastwood, a Linden, New Jersey native. “Being a first-generation student means something special to me. They never had the opportunity to embark on a college experience, so, in a way, they are getting a sense of college through my journey at the University of New Haven. All my accomplishments are shared accomplishments because I am a representation of them.”

Eastwood chose the University of New Haven after attending Open Houses and listening to alumni discuss their own experiences. She particularly liked the welcoming atmosphere on campus, the low teacher-student ratio, and the fact that the forensic science program is highly acclaimed.

“College is an investment, and I knew I needed to invest well,” she said. “It’s important to me to follow my dreams and to pursue a career in forensic science. Having a career will give me the freedom not to live paycheck to paycheck as I have seen my family do my entire life.”

Image of Ariana Eastwood with her classmates.
Ariana Eastwood (right) and her classmates in the lab.
‘You will discover something great inside of you’

Immersing herself in the University community, Eastwood is a member of the University’s Honors program, a Charger Ambassador, and a forensic science lab assistant. She serves as the public relations director for the Black Student Union, an orientation leader, and a resident assistant in Sheffield Hall. She is passionate about helping and connecting with her fellow Chargers.

Image of Ariana Eastwood and Charlie the Charger.
Charlie was all smiles when Ariana Eastwood committed to the University of New Haven.

Grateful for the support of her family, Eastwood says her mother, who continues to work two jobs, has always worked very hard to ensure that she had everything she needed. Eastwood aspires to become a crime scene investigator and to work for the FBI. She offers this advice for her fellow first-generation students, as well as prospective students who will be following in her footsteps.

“Just do it,” she said. “No matter what college you go to, you will discover something great inside of you. Be the first to start a great legacy. This will be something that you and your family will be proud for a lifetime. You will certainly be helping someone else achieve their goals when they see you have achieved yours.”

As part of its commemoration of First-Generation Celebration Day, a national initiative created by the Council for Opportunity in Education on Nov. 8, the University of New Haven launched an ongoing campaign that will regularly highlight the success of first-generation students in its community and alumni of the University who are the first in their families to earn a college degree. Read the first story about Sofia Martinez ’22.