First-Generation Stories

I grew up in a small rural town in Ohio where farming and factories were the courses of employment to most children. My desire was always to become a nurse so I worked hard with my grades in high school to have a chance at college. My brother went to college as the first child in our family which allowed me the ability to advance my potential career with an actual degree. I attended Olivet Nazarene University in Illinois and graduated in 1985 with a BSN in Nursing. I advanced to an MSN in 2006 from Otterbein University. I believe that a desire and a call is the beginning of a life that will be changed with education. – Cathy Crum, Clinical Coordinator Nursing Technologies

My only option was which college I was attending.  Not If I was going. Being from two non-college parents, they were determined both my brother and I would go to college and obtain a degree.  I wanted to be a speech and hearing therapist.  My high school biology teacher, Diane Craig, influenced where I went.  She stated that Ohio University had a great program for Speech and Hearing, so that is the only school I visited and that is where I went. I knew no one.  I was 18 and from a graduating class of 83 people at Ridgedale High School, entering a major University of 20,000+ where I knew no one 3 hours away from home. My college roommate, computer matched, and I hit it off great and lived together for over 2 years.  She now lives in Alabama and came up this past weekend for our 35th reunion.

First quarter I had my first Audiology class and hated it.  Switched my major to Sociology the next quarter. Graduated in 4 years with a Sociology degree.  I actually graduated on a Saturday and started at what at that time was the County Welfare Department here in Marion two days after graduation.  During my time there I was a caseworker, Quality Control, Social Worker in the Schools, and Training Officer.  14.9 years there and then here at MTC for over 20.  And actually my employment time at OU, (student worker and Resident Assistant) contributed to my service years for retirement. – Tami Galloway , Job Development Coordinator

Stacie Campbell is currently the Coordinator of the LPN/Advanced Standing program. I am a first-generation college student. My dad received his GED in high school and joined the army before getting a long-term job that he would retire from. My mom worked hard as a full-time mom and various side jobs. I received my ADN degree in Nursing after high school. The path was difficult; I had to work two full-time jobs to keep up with the cost of college. My parents were always supportive but did not always understand how to help me with the college process, which has lead to many tears.  What helped me during my first degree from a community college was the support staff. The staff helped with FAFSA applications and pathways to follow. Now with continued support from my husband, parents, friends, co-workers, and a university, I have received my Master’s Degree in Nursing Education and I am working on my Ph.D. in nursing. The best advice I can give to a first-generation student is to surround yourself with a support system and to utilize as many support services from the school as you can. – Stacie Campbell, LPN/Advanced Standing Coordinator

Dr. Amy Adams is a first-generation student whose parents simply told her to go to college and she never stopped!  Amy current serves as the Vice President for Planning & Advancement at Marion Tech.  Amy hails from northwest Ohio (God’s Country!) where she attended and graduated from Riverdale High School.  Even though she lives in Columbus today, she still thinks of Wyandot County as home since that is where the family farm is.  Yes – Amy is a farm girl!  She also worked at Whirlpool Corporation for a couple of summers while putting herself through her undergraduate degree.  Amy earned her Ph.D. in higher education from Ohio University, an M.Ed. Degree from Northern Arizona University, and a B.S. from The Ohio State University.  She is happy to talk to you about your experiences as a first-generation student and is glad you are here at MTC!- Dr. Amy Adams, Vice President, Planning and Advancement

Chelsea Adams was a first generation college student. Her mother completed up through ninth grade and her father received his high school diploma and joined the United States Army. All throughout her middle and high school education, Chelsea’s father encouraged her to go to college—she was the first in her family to do so. Chelsea started by taking post-secondary classes at Miami University Middletown her junior and senior years of high school. Chelsea received her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Psychology from Bowling Green State University, two semesters ahead of schedule. From there, she served two years of national service in AmeriCorps, one of which as an AmeriCorps College Completion Coach at MTC. This experience led her to her current interim position as the Administrative Assistant of Arts and Sciences. She recently began working through a Master’s degree program in Organizational Leadership: Higher Education through Claremont Lincoln University.- Chelsea Adams, Administrative Assistant, Arts & Sciences Department

My father was the first in his family to finish high school and did not encourage or discourage college.  It simply was not discussed.  Perhaps this was due to my average high school grades.  Farming was not my future so I applied to college and completed the FAFSA on my own.  My parents were just happy that I was taking steps towards life after high school.  Big-college life was great but my grades were not.  While I knew how to have a great time I did not know how to study or even understand basic college terminology.  Things improved as I matured and focused on my future.  Later in life I began working for a college.  Only then did I realize how to do college properly.  I am now the first person in my family to have a master’s degree and I plan to use my time to take the mystery out of college for others. –Tony Box, Director of Admissions and Recruitment

Being the first in my family to attend college would make me a first-generation college student. 

When I graduated high school you had four choices: 1) Get married 2) join the military 3) get a job or 4) go to college.  Well, I got married and five years later started my family.  During that time I worked in the office at Pillsbury Co. located in Martel, Ohio.  I had a co-worker who took classes and always encouraged me to do the same, but I always made excuses.  Mostly, I would be too old when I would graduate.  I made a career change in 1988 and began working at Marion Technical College.  I remember someone saying “If you invest in your education, you not only grow personally but professionally”.  So, three months after the birth of my second son I enrolled in fall classes. I wanted to grow.   It was a balancing act of raising a family, working, and taking courses, but I was determined to succeed, and succeed I did!  I graduated from Marion Technical College with an associate degree in Business Management with a concentration in Office Information and a certificate in Word Processing.

I encouraged both of my sons to attend college.  My son Devin Severns attended Hocking Community College in the Fire Science program and works for the Marion City Fire Department. My son Luke Severns joined the Air Force serving six years as Military Police. He works with Ohio Edison – Springfield, Ohio, and is attending Marion Technical College in the Electrical Engineering program.

Having my degree has not only given me the opportunity to work at Marion Technical College, but it has allowed me to serve on the board of Marion Women’s Business Council for the past 14 years serving as President, Vice President, and ATHENA.  It connected me with the Ohio Enterprise Network and allowed me to bring to the Marion Campus the Learning Enrichment Institute (LEI).  This was an opportunity for individuals 50 years of age and older to broaden their experiences through a schedule of short-term, non-credit courses that promote creativity, free-thinking, and personal growth and development.  It combined the educational resources of Marion Technical College, The Ohio State University of Marion, other organizations, and dozens of volunteers to offer two terms (fall and spring each lasting approximately five to seven weeks) of programming that meets the diverse needs and interests of adults 50 and older.  LEI is a community service/outreach effort that was modeled after more than 600 successful “lifelong learning” programs across the country.

I am proud to have been a first generation college student.  Most importantly, it made my parents proud! –Teri Martin, LEI Program Coordinator, Technical and Professional Services

My grandma and grandpa came from Kentucky and North Carolina (they were not cousins.) To say it simply, education was not valued in their homes or small towns. My grandma worked in the tobacco fields until she was old enough to work in the factory, she was able to achieve an 8th-grade education. My mother was the first person in the family to obtain a high school diploma, but still, I grew up in poverty. Our family has always been the best versions of themselves in poverty. And that is the beginning of my First Gen story because without knowing my family’s story, you can’t know all of mine.

When I choose to go to college, it was HUGE for our little family. Knowing little about the value and long term side effects of college, I choose to attend Columbus College of Art and Design. My mom opened all of my acceptance letters and showed them off long before I ever knew about my acceptance and then she told me to move out. When I was in college, the first thing I did was look for a job, at one point I had three jobs. After freshman year, I got married. My sophomore year my aunt died, she was my grandma’s primary caretaker. My junior year we moved my grandma into our apartment. By October of 2009, I had full custody of my autistic 11 year old sister. My grandma died a month before graduation, I didn’t walk for graduation. As a sarcastic cherry on top of a true First Gen experience, I graduated at the peak of the Great Recession. I was over or under qualified for almost all available jobs in my field. Several teaching jobs I took lost funding before I could be hired or started my first day. I wish Community College Amanda could go back and help Art School Amanda. But this experience was necessary. Without this failure and success, I could not help current MTC students.

After 10 years “out of Marion” I moved back. I am now the first person to own a house and a car at the same time in our family. I am now the first person to have student debt in our family. I am now the first person to experience college in our family. – Amanda Robinson, Enrollment Services Receptionist

No one in my family had gone to college and I went to work in a factory after high school and worked there for 13 years.

The factory decided to downsize and start sending our work to Mexico so that gave me the option to go back to school. I applied to MTC in 1997 and graduated in 1999 with a degree in Micro Computers Suma Cum Lade. When I first came to MTC I was scared I had no idea where to go or what I was doing.  I had a class that talked about the internet and the instructor asked who here does not know what the internet is I was the only one to raise my hand, talk about scary.  Soon after that, I was no longer scared and I learned what the internet was, how to use computers, and what a network was.  Took accounting, algebra very scary never had it before, oral communications petrified me but I got through it and so can you the first generation student.

I thank all the instructors at MTC because they helped me learn and attain my degree, along with my hard work and dedication.  I also became a student worker in the IT department and was hired full-time and have been here for 20 years. When I walked across that stage my whole family gave a shout and Dr. Bryson said sounds like you have a cheering section I said I do.  My family was great they allowed me to move back home when I lost my job and helped with my son who was in the 5th grade at the time. Their support meant the world to me.

I went on to get my Bachelors through Phoenix and graduated with honors Suma Cum Lade in Visual Communications and I have been working as a Webmaster on campus from the time they rolled out the first website for MTC. It has been a dream come true. I will tell anyone who is a first-gen student it will be fine, you can do it, and when you need help just ask because everyone here is a great support and it will pay off in the long run. – Tina Ginn, Webmaster

 I am the first generation because I am the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college.  I come from a working-class family.  My dad completed high school and trade school.  My mother did not complete high school.  With my grandmother’s help, my single dad raised me.  As a first-generation student, I faced challenges that many other students may not.   My family could not contribute financially or even help me understand how this unique social setting called college worked.  When I decided to go to college, I was on my own completely as far as learning how to succeed.  I credit my success to specific people who helped me along the way. One of which was a college professor who pushed me as if she knew more about my potential than I did. She took a special interest in me.  One of the most profound moments of my college education was in Sociology 101.  The professor asked that we identify whether our parents or grandparents had attended college.  Most of the other students raised their hands indicating, yes, their family had attended college. Next, a small few of us raised our hands identifying that we were the first in our family to attend college.  The professor then said, “those of you who have your hands up now are statistically the least likely to graduate.”  It wasn’t until I began my career at MTC that I heard the term first generation and that my experience was not unique. I wanted to be the exception. My message to you is that I here today to help YOU be the exception.  I am like you in many ways.  We are not as different as you might think. –Brandy Page, Student Services Assistant

 I am a First Generation Student.  My dad was a mechanic by trade and a successful self-made entrepreneur, and my mom completed trade school and co-owned her own beauty salon.  There was never a debate about whether or not I would attend college- it was assumed that I just would.  I was not as enthusiastic about the idea and delayed even applying until the last minute.  I attended The Ohio State University Mansfield Campus, but felt very lost and confused the whole time.  I started struggling in my classes and eventually dropped out completely (yes, that’s correct, I have a full semester of nothing but ‘w’s on my transcript, and a full semester of D’s and F’s before that).  Luckily, my advisor persuaded me to petition for an Associate’s Degree, but I never walked for graduation.  I was embarrassed that I failed so many classes, and that I had no real motivation or direction.

12 years later, I had two children and was newly divorced.  I thought I should go back to school to become a nurse, as I was working as a pharmacy technician and loved the medical field.  I went back to Ohio State Mansfield, found out about grade forgiveness, and started taking classes towards a nursing degree.  I reached a point where I had to decide whether or not to transfer to the main campus to finish my classes, but that was not an option for me with small children.  I was also told by my advisor that my GPA was not high enough to be competitive for entry into the nursing program.  I was devastated and decided to quit again.

I knew I wanted to help people but didn’t know how since my dreams of being a nurse were ruined. I took a job with AmeriCorps not knowing about the great options community colleges offered for students like me.  It was in that year, being placed in a community college and working with students of all ages and backgrounds, that I realized I really wanted to be an academic advisor.  I finished my bachelor’s degree online and changed my focus.  Now that I am here at MTC, I feel it is my duty to share with students the struggles I faced so that they can see the path to graduation is not always a straight line, and sometimes life presents you with opportunities you didn’t even realize you needed.  I am proud to be first-generation, and I’m proud of you too! –Kendra Karchella, Academic Advisor