Generational change begins with someone deciding to take the first step on a new possibility. Beingthe first to take those steps into the unknown can have a lasting impact on the generations behind you. For the many first-generation college students, they are creating new pathways and new ways of overcoming challenges to achieve personal growth and create opportunities for future generations.
I am a 2nd generation college student, both my father and mother were first generation college students on the University of Central Oklahoma campus back in 1975 and 1976. Both began their freshman year of college at a statistical disadvantage. My father was raised by a single mother with limited financial resources. He knew the road out of poverty for him would include completing a college education. Upon graduation from high school, he enlisted in the US Navy Reserves, enrolled at UCO, and moved into Thatcher Hall, the men’s student dorm. At the same time, my mother’s high school guidance counselor was discouraging her from pursuing a college education. My mother had a seizure disorder that made memorization work challenging and school had always taken a little more effort on her part. Thankfully, my mother ignored the opinion of the guidance counselor, applied for vocational rehabilitation benefits, enrolled at UCO, and commuted from Midwest City to the UCO campus. This first step created a lasting generational change for all four of their future children. Setting the example that, it is okay to create a new path in your life even if it is different from the one you grew up knowing. That the most important belief is the one inside of you, not that of the outside world.