Transitions, Too Story – Sharon N. A. Parkinson

Within my immediate family I am the first-generation to attend college in the United States.  Previous generations of family members valued education and were very well-rounded individuals but did not attend college.  Instead, they were entrepreneurs and professionals who acquired their training through apprenticeships and specialized training schools.  Only when we relocated to the United States did it seem necessary to acquire a college education to enhance economic and social mobility.  Therefore, my first-generation college story is also my immigration story.

Given what I know now I would salute my first-year self for taking advantage of all of the orientation, honors, and college success programs and strategies that were offered by my undergraduate institution because they helped establish a firm foundation for my continued success throughout all four years.

During my final year of college, my family experienced job displacement and that had a negative effect on contributions towards my tuition and other expenses.  By working closely with the financial aid office I was able to secure an additional loan to carry me through to completion.  I am also grateful for the emotional support that I received during this time and assurances that everything would be alright.  I was told that in 10 or 20 years, the additional debt would be outweighed by the total investment, knowledge and experience gained from my college education.