- Undergraduate Institution: Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky
- Undergraduate Major(s) & Degree(s) Achieved:
Bachelor of Arts in Theatre
- Graduate Major(s) & Degree(s) ACHIEVED:
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Theatre Design
- Graduate Institution(s): Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana
Why did you decide to attend college?
I always knew my parents expected me to go to college & I did too. I wanted to go to college because I knew didn’t want to work on a factory line like both of my parents. However, when it came time to apply I didn’t know what to do. I was paralyzed with fear of failure. My mom had to make me register for classes. She drove me up to the registration building on the last day to register & said: “Get out.”
How did you learn that you were a first generation college student?
It wasn’t until I started applying for jobs as a college instructor that I ran across the term first-generation college student. I never really understood what the big deal was about being a first-gen student until I started talking with my husband’s friends who had college-educated parents & grandparents. I discovered I missed out on things like my parents proofing essays, talking with me about the books I was reading for class, helping search for scholarships, helping to study for the SAT & navigating the college application process. I still remember sitting at the kitchen table alone filling out my FASFA & feeling overwhelmed.
What support system or mentors did you have in college?
My parents wanted to help, but they didn’t know how. My dad barely graduated high school & my mom got her GED when I was a sophomore in high school. They would buy my books or some supplies every once in a while, but they had their problems to deal with & college was something they didn’t understand. Fortunately, I had some supportive professors along the way. Professors who believed in me & gave me opportunities to learn & to lead. Several professors helped with things like classes, portfolios, graduate school applications & interviews. My husband & I even had professors who hired us to do odd jobs so we could have money for food. If it weren’t for their support & my husband, I don’t know where I would be right now.
What were your personal, family or community strengths that motivated you to persist to graduation?
I knew I didn’t want to work in a pet food factory or soybean mill like my parents. Once I started college, I Initially made bad choices like not going to classes & only doing theatre. I made horrible grades one semester & then scared I would get kicked out I made great grades the following semester. At the time there wasn’t Satisfactory Academic Progress or SAP requirement for financial aid, so I wasted a lot of money. When I realized how much debt I was getting into, I wised up & decided to work for a while. While sitting out of school for a year washing dishes & helping cook at a restaurant, I quickly learned that I didn’t want to spend my days wet, covered with food & smelling like a fryer. I wanted to teach.
What surprised you most about your college experience?
I was most surprised by majoring in theatre & minoring in art history. Who would have thought that a blue-collar kid like me would end up in the arts? I was also surprised by the amount of support & the numerous opportunities from our professors that both my husband & I received.
Related to your achievement, what are you most proud of when you look back today?
I am the proudest of going back to school after being out for a year. My husband & I decided to get married, move to Kentucky, & attend a school we had never visited. All this happened in about 6 weeks. It was a huge leap, but it paid off. I knew I wanted to be a professor & give back to other first-generation students like me.
What advice do you have to a first generation college student pursuing a degree at Ferris?
Never give up & don’t feel guilty for bettering your life. Take advantage of every opportunity the university has to offer & never doubt that you are good enough because you belong here.