What does being a first-generation college student mean to you?
This is a good question. I never really thought too much about this until recently. No one in my family had been to college even in my extended family. Not one person. And, I never thought that I wouldn't go to college and I always wanted to be a teacher. I also never thought that I might have been a role model for my nieces and nephews either. My brother-in-law was a college graduate, and I looked up to him, as he was a teacher which I aspired to be. I was in sixth grade when my sister married him, so I had some sort of role model. My parents (one graduated from high school and one had to quit school to support the family in Brooklyn) were supportive but really didn't have any experience with college themselves, and I floundered. But being a first-generation college student is what gave me the opportunities that I have had for a terrific career which revolves around Higher Education.
What obstacles did you face in this context?
I had no idea what to expect. I was way too social and thought that I could just get by. I ended up taking some summer courses and actually worked for one year after sophomore year, taking four courses that academic year plus courses in the summer to make up for lost time. I did return to Oneonta after that experience and was able to apply myself more than previously.
What advice do you have for other first-generation students?
Get as much support as possible and take advance of what the college has to offer. I always recommend some type of work that connects a student with the college and role model adults or peers. That connection makes the difference when someone is away from home for the first time and they haven't had that type of role model in their life. I think that at this time, 50 years since I was a freshman, the support and experiences that our students get in their high school career is so much better. I would hope they are much better prepared than I was for budgeting their time and with study skills.