As a first-generation student, you may be wondering if anyone else encounters the same challenges and surprises higher education offers. That is why we have compiled stories from first-generation current Drexel students, graduates, faculty, and professional staff, so you can see how they navigated their college experience and maybe find some truths that you can apply to yours.
Jeana Morrison, PhD
School of Education, Class of 2018
For me as a first-generation college student, the fact that my parents didn't go to college means that I did not know much about what college life would be like before I got there. Looking back, if I had known more about college, I would have visited more schools and asked more questions when I was choosing a college. It can be easy to get embarrassed about what you don't know, but it's important to ask friends and other people in your network so you can get connected to resources that you need.
My own research on education examines inequalities in society and differences in power and access — I think this has something to do with my experience as a first-generation student. In terms of being an educator and mentor, I want to think of ways to challenge the system and push back against inequality. I'm happy that Drexel is beginning to pay attention to first-generation students and connecting them with resources and people who share their experiences.
LeBow College of Business, Class of 2019
Being a first-generation college student is something that's really important to me. I'm really proud of it and it helps keep me motivated, because I know how hard my dad worked to get my sister and me to college. My sister is older, so my family learned a lot about college when she was applying to schools. It was smoother with me, but there were still things we had to learn about. I was recently able to take what I've learned and help a fellow first-generation student, a neighbor. It felt great. I think it's important to use your resources, find mentors, and even to do online research about college.
My college experience has been unique because since high school, I thought that I wanted to be an engineer, and when I got to Drexel I discovered that what I really wanted to do was business. As a first-generation student, it was hard for me to come to terms with the fact that the plan I had made and been working towards was going to have to change. I'm very happy in my new major, so my advice for other students is to be open to change.
College of Arts and Sciences, Class of 2021
When I reflect on what it means to have graduated from Drexel being a first-generation student, I immediately think of two distinct realities: the difficulties and obstacles I faced because of it and the success, growth, and self-actualization I achieved despite those challenges. Coming into Drexel, I remember feeling anxious because I was stepping into a completely new territory that neither me nor my support system had any knowledge of. I was unaware of all the norms, the lingo, and to what level of effort and commitment was required of me to truly thrive in college. I struggled a lot, especially in the beginning of college, but I embraced that challenge. I look back at my time at Drexel and feel empowered.
Overcoming the obstacles that come with being a first-generation student has made me realize how much I am truly capable of, both in an academic setting and in my personal life. I’m proud of how much I have learned about myself and the growth that I accomplished with great people along the way to help. And, it is truly a privilege to be able to help empower future first-generation students going forward.