You may not know that your new president is a first-generation student, so today I wanted to reach out and celebrate all of our first-gen Hornets.
I chose to attend college to become a laboratory technician and get my AA degree. At the interview (that is what happened in Scotland at that time), the president asked me why I hadn’t applied to do a BS in biology and chemistry. My answer: “I don’t know if I can do that.”
As you can see, my confidence level wasn’t too high. This was the first of many instances in my life where others saw potential in me to do things I didn’t know I could do.
So, I started my BS in biology and chemistry because of that conversation and, after four years, graduated second in my class from Dundee College of Technology (now Abertay University).
I know that when I started college, I wasn’t sure what to expect, where to get support, or how to raise my voice — characteristics often found in first-gen students. My peers, the staff, and the faculty supported me and helped me grow and develop into the person I am today.
When I graduated, one of my professors asked me to join the first cohort of a PhD program at the same college. Me? Do a PhD? No way! Again, it was the professor who encouraged me and opened the doors to make it possible.
Because of grants, scholarships, and working full-time as a teaching graduate assistant, I finished both my degrees with no debt and the attitude that I could try anything and learn from those experiences.
I have now lived and worked in Scotland, England, Germany, and several states here in the U.S. — Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina (x2) and now, Virginia.
I would not have achieved any of this without the support of those who saw my potential even when I doubted myself.
So, on Nov. 8, on First-Generation College Celebration Day, please join me in celebrating all of our first-gen Hornets, whose journeys have led them to be an integral part of our community and who bring wonderfully different perspectives and life experiences.
It’s a great day to be a Hornet!