Tag Archives: Feature

Friday’s Feature: Ronnie E. Hampston, Jr.

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Current Position(s): K-5 School Service Worker and Adjunct Professor

Degrees: University of Cincinnati, B.S. in Criminal Justice/Organizational Leadership; University of Phoenix, M.S. in Administration in Criminal Justice

1. Why did you decide to attend college? I always felt that it was expected of me. Also, it was something that my parents nor grandparents did, so I wanted to…dedicate it to them.

2. What were some of the challenges you faced as a first-generation college student, and how did you overcome them?
I faced several challenges in school, from academic issues, to problems with financial aid, [and] problems with time management. I overcame them by just working hard and seeking help from advisors, tutors, or whoever was willing to help. Two of the biggest challenges that are not often spoken about are time management and accountability. In college, you don’t have an adult telling you what to do; and when you get accustomed to that type of freedom, it can cause you to be lazy. I had many sink or swim moments, but I was fortunate to make it out of school successfully.

3. What have been some of the payoffs for attending college?
Meeting my wife. Meeting lifelong friends. Obtaining degrees that will allow me to advance in my field.

4. If you could go back in time and change anything about your college career, what would it be
and why?

I would have not taken out as many loans. I also would have considered going to a community college to start off in order to save money. Also, I should have been more involved on campus.

5. If you could give any advice to current and/or future first-generation college students, what
would it be?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Use the resources that are available to you. Try to get a paid internship every summer. Only take out loans when you absolutely NEED them. Research scholarship opportunities because there are so many out there.

Party hard, but study even harder.

I can’t help but notice the themes about time management and asking for help. College is a new to Gen1s and we tend to not know how to manage the two. But, like Ronnie suggests, once you learn how to handle time and ask for help, you can really turn things around for the good!

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Our Friday Feature

Keinda West,
Litigation Paralegal

BA Sociology-Criminology (2006, Ohio University) and an ABA approved Paralegal Certificate (2014, Long Island University – Brooklyn)

1. Why did you decide to attend college?

College was always something that was expected of me, but I went because I knew it was the next step in life. At the time I wanted to become a forensic scientist. That just was not going to happen without a college degree.

2. What were some of the challenges you faced as a first-generation college student, and how did
you overcome them?

I had a lot of fear because I have older siblings and I watched two of them attend college, but not finish. I always had it in the back of my mind that I wouldn’t finish as well. As expected, after my first year, I was on academic probation with a 1.7 GPA. The classes weren’t actually hard, I was just overwhelmed, depressed, and couldn’t find my footing. I didn’t turn things around until I realized that I wasn’t in this by myself and swallowed my pride to ask for help. In my sophomore year I talked with academic advisors, my profs, even my RA. All were glad to assist me with resources on campus. I also had to take my mind off who I didn’t want to become, a college failure, and focus on who I was striving to be, a college graduate.

3. What have been some of the payoffs for attending college?

Outside of earning credentials for the job market and a lifetime network, my whole worldview changed from attending college. I learned there was so much more in the world than the environment in which I grew up. Most important, I learned who I was. It’s where I developed my inner strength! One doesn’t necessarily have to attend college for those things, but that’s where I made my discoveries.

4. If you could go back in time and change anything about your college career, what would it be
and why?

I would have used my scholarship to attend a local community college for free! I chose not to attend because the school didn’t offer my major. However, I realized later that I could have used those two years to take my general education requirements and transferred to a 4-year school with my major to complete my degree…with less debt!

5. If you could give any advice to current and/or future first-generation college students, what
would it be?

Don’t borrow more money than you need. I didn’t discover that I could decline a portion of my loans until my senior year. The damage was already done. Each quarter I would receive and overage check of about $1500. Sure I used maybe $500-$700 of that for books, but the rest of that was not the free money I naively thought it to be. Of course, I knew I would have to pay it back, but who’s thinking that far in advance? So don’t spend all of your salary before you get the job you’ve been studying so hard for! Student loan payments are very real and all the hell that everyone says they are.

Additional info:
Since graduating in 2006, my mom has completed an associate degree in business administration and two of my older sisters have gone back to school and completed bachelor degrees in healthcare administration and electrical engineering. It’s truly been a blessing to watch them succeed as well.

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Friday Feature

Shayla Dean:
Flight Attendant, World Traveler, Blogger, Fashion Consultant,
Model, Beauty &Wellness Mentor

Degree(s):
Bachelors of Business Administration (University of Cincinnati, 2008); Cosmetology License (Aveda Institute, 2010)

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Q&A

1. Why did you go to college?
I decided to attend college because I felt my “success” would be determined by a degree or lack there of.

2. What were some of the challenges you faced as a first-generation college student, and how did you overcome them?
…financing my education. I had to take out a lot of loans to pay for my degree.

3. What have been some of the payoffs for attending college?
…the lifetime friends I met…the marketing knowledge I learned that I can apply to any field of work…and the confidence I gained to work in a professional environment.

4. If you could go back in time and change anything about your college career, what would it be and why?
I would Intern, Intern, and Intern! I feel if I would have taken advantage of more internships I would have had a better idea of what I wanted to pursue post college and interning would have helped me secure a job.

5. If you could give any advice to current and/or future first-generation college students, what would it be?
Use your first year to take a variety of electives. Taking electives allows you to explore fields you may not have known you were interested in. It’s important to study something you are passionate about because it will definitely pay off in your future.

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