Hawk owl graphic

First-Generation College Celebration

First-Generation Students

Student photoJoelle Ellsworth- NMC Student

Like many first-generation college students, I came from a very poor family and did not have the resources or guidance that is commonly found from parents who have attended college. Many of the challenges that I have encountered while attending college, I have had to work through on my own. Challenges such as, student loans, studying, and choosing a career path.

My family, while supportive, did not always understand my need to be disciplined in submitting my homework on time, or attending class, but I found success in utilizing community resources, such as, academic advising, and homework labs. I’ve found that little is more important than taking care of one’s mental health and furthering one’s education. Which is why I have chosen to pursue a degree in the psychology field.

The biggest lesson I have learned so far is that education is transformative, and that is empowering. Prior to attending school, I felt powerless to break the cycle of poverty, anxiety and depression. I did not know that higher education was even an option for me. In the article “Claiming an Education,” by Adrienne Rich, she states, “[We] cannot afford to think of being here to receive an education; [we] will do much better to think of [ourselves] as being here to claim one” (95). Claiming my education has empowered me with the opportunity to transform my life, and it is one that I do not take for granted.

Student photoMarcus A. Bennett, Ed.D.- Associate Dean of campus and Residence Life, NMC

To be a first generation college graduate in my family was a blessing. I had many family members who went to college but never finished their educational credentials, my mother instilled in my brother and I that we were going to college and that we were going to finish what we started. I had family members and mentors who encouraged me to not stop at a bachelors but keep the journey going and obtain as much information as possible as it pertains to education, I obtained my doctorate in 2016.

I had hurdles and obstacles (financial, societal and personal issues) all throughout my collegiate experience but I did not let that deter me from getting the educational credentials I was destined to obtain. Coming from a single parent home is never easy, but I used that as motivation to encourage others who have a similar background as mine that if you put in the work you will get the results you deserve. I also, learned what it means to have great mentors and the value of what true mentoring can have on a person's educational journey.

Student photoJen Strauss- NMC Success Coach

My father was raised by Russian Immigrants and had to quit school in 1935 to work in his father's butcher shop. My mother graduated High School and joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) or woman's branch of Naval Service during WWII. We were a working class family and college wasn't really discussed as an option in my house.

By the time I was in High School, all of my friends knew they were going to college so I just assumed that I would be applying to go to college too. By that time, my father was sick with heart disease and could no longer work. My mom worked full time as a keypunch operator (early computer programmer) for one of Detroit's largest dairies but our family finances were less than stable.

Because of my father's illness, my mother's willingness to fill out the FAFSA, and my strong ACT scores and high school GPA, I received a full scholarship to attend the University of Michigan. I have been forever grateful for that opportunity.