First Generation American

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By: Alicia Macias

Editor: Katie Williams

Excelling in the classroom, trilingual, strong to her faith, family oriented, and independent – Jennifer Forgaciu is the modern day woman.

Growing up in a strong Romanian background, Forgaciu often feels annoyed by the social norms of a woman – getting married young and starting a family. Forgaciu’s parents gave her the opportunity and encouragement to put herself first and work towards an excellent education and career path.

Forgaciu has taken advantages her parents gave her, becoming a first generation American. She currently works in the automotive industry, which is male dominated. I wanted to get a deeper dive on how Forgaciu became this strong, passionate, and fearless woman that she has become. 

AM: Who are the people who have most influenced your life and how have they affected you?

Forgaciu: The people who most influenced me are my parents and my brother. I think the most important way my parents impacted me was by instilling in me a strong belief in God. This has affected every area of my life and has shaped my worldview. My brother has impacted me through our close relationship and has become one of my best friends over the years.

AM: Where have you lived and how have those places affected your life?

Forgaciu: I lived in Dearborn, MI, until I was 6 and in Hazel Park, MI, until I was 12. I associate these places with fun childhood memories. I moved to Shelby Township, MI, about a year before high school. I definitely associate it more with growing up and becoming busy with school throughout high school and into college.

AM: What are the experiences that have most influenced you and why?

Forgaciu: The experiences that have most influenced me are related to growing up in a Christian and Romanian family. As I got older, I valued my family’s immigrant background and my bilingual upbringing. This is also something I was surrounded by in church every Sunday, as I have attended Romanian churches all my life. I was surrounded by a strong community of Christians and a strong appreciation for political and religious freedom, because many of my family members and friends have a heritage rooted in fleeing Romania’s Communist regime. 

AM: What do you want others to understand about your identity?

Forgaciu: I guess I would want others to understand that my identity is rooted in God and in a desire to understand His will for my life. I also think it’s very important to invest in my relationships with family and friends, as well as in my education.

AM: What are some ways in which you have asserted your rights or civil liberties?

Forgaciu: I can’t think of a situation where I had to publicly fight for my rights or liberties, but I would say I “assert” my rights by actively practicing my freedom of religion and speech both on and off social media. In that way, I can say I’ve used these rights to express different religious and political opinions online when I choose to.

AM: Describe a story when you have felt oppressed or constrained by power structures. How do you feel you have overcome these constraints?

Forgaciu: I didn’t feel oppressed, but I felt annoyed with certain cultural norms growing up. For example, I was often annoyed with the heavy pressure within the Romanian community for women to get married young and focus on starting a family. There was an unequal emphasis on this rather than a balanced emphasis on focusing on your education and career. There was also the pressure of getting married young, rather than focusing on the right timing for yourself regarding marriage and children. 

AM: How has the socio-political and economic environment around where you have grown up affected you?

Forgaciu: I’m thankful that the environment I grew up in allowed me to get a good education and gave me all the basic necessities I needed to succeed, and more. I can also say that I felt supported in being able to talk about certain mental health struggles growing up, which was important.

I can also say that the immigrant background of my parents and extended family gave me an important appreciation for the opportunities and freedoms I was given.

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