Going to college is a big decision for millennials to make. While trying to find their place on campus, they make efforts to defeat their stereotypes.
Vice President of Student Affairs Levester Johnson said one of the biggest challenges of being a first-generation student is not knowing university environments.
“The process of everything from applying to college to knowing financial resources and knowing how to network within the institutional community [are] some of the biggest challenges of people from those separate backgrounds of which I am a part of,” Johnson said.
Although first-generation students may face challenges along the way, they add to the diversity of the campus.
“We bring a richness to this community. We help fill in what reality actually is for a majority of students who don’t come from our backgrounds,” Johnson said.
Having a mentor gives students an introduction to campus life and it’s many opportunities.
“I had a faculty member in high school who said ‘Levester, just remember, they will not understand everything about your world, but you will know everything about theirs.’”
The Dean of Students offers nearly 40 RSOs where students can explore their interests, develop academics, and hone leadership skills. The skills students develop in their organization are valuable skills they will need in their professional careers.
Senior psychology major Amma Bonsu-Wiafe is a first-generation student with hopes of becoming a counselor.
“At first, I wanted to be a pediatrician, but I realized the way I wanted to help kids wasn’t what a pediatrician does, whereas a school counselor actually helps kids in an academic and social situation,” Bonsu-Wiafe said.
Her parents came from Ghana where they received an African education, but their education had no status in the United States.
Other families could do many things her family wasn’t able to do. Sometimes her mom would work night shifts and Bonsu-Wiafe realized she didn’t want to work a typical job.
She wanted a career and not have to face the struggles her mom did.
“My mom definitely is my biggest motivator in life because she is one of my big support systems and she gives me so much advice,” Bonsu-Wiafe said. “Whenever I have problems, I lean on her and she supports me. She was with me every step of the way when it came to applying to colleges and going on college tours.”
She believes it is important to find the right friends who have the same aspiration and similar goals to become successful.
She added most first-generation students are minorities or low-income from which she shares the same background.
“I want to show people that it doesn’t matter what social-economic status you are, or what ethnicity you are, you can defeat the odds of what everybody says,” Bonsu-Wiafe said.