Tag Archives: First-generation

Wednesday’s Worker

Meet Brandon Huntley, a first-generation graduate from the University of Cincinnati! 


Current Job: Teacher 

Current Company: Cincinnati Public Schools

Degree: Bachelors Degree in Middle Childhood Education, 4-9 Language Arts and Social Studies 

Job Responsibilities:

“I teach 5th/6th grade Social Studies. I have been teaching 7 years. Teaching is one of the most rewarding careers to pursue. The reward is not the check but the impact you make in a child’s life. The impact is not just the content you teach to students but as a mentor and inspiring young people to be functional adults in the 21st century -one child at a time.”

Skills Needed to Do His Job

– public speaking; 

– verbal and written communication;

– leadership;

 – creativity to reach a variety of students 

How many of you want to give back to your communitities, and pay it forward by being a teacher? What questions do you have about what it takes to become a teacher? 

Tagged , , ,

Tuesday’s Tidbit: Office Hours – The Land of Opportunity Awaits

Too many students are afraid to attend office hours because it seems like they are being sent to the Principal’s Office without actually being sent to the Principal’s Office. 

Of course there are other reasons: you don’t have the time, you don’t like the Prof., their office is far, they’re never in there when they say they will be.
…doesn’t matter!

Go to office hours. They are truly the land of opportunity. Here are just a few ways to capitalize on your Professor’s office hours:

– You get to know to know more about the class material. 

– You can learn more about their field of expertise. 

– You can ask questions that you were afraid to ask in front of the class. 

– You can share what you want to learn, earn, and discern (see what I did there?) from the class. 

– You can ask questions about opportunities in the field (for example, internships, independent studies, study abroad funding, scholarships, conferences, etc.).

The list goes on! But, the point remains the same, go to office hours at some point over the course of the semester. 

Tagged , , ,

Friday Feature: Al Tomlinson III

Al Tomlinson IIIAssistant Director of Corporate Development  

DegreeBS, Sport Management (2010, Bowling Green State University); Master of Business Administration (2014, University of Dayton) 

1. Why did you decide to attend college?

Attending college had always been an aspiration of mine. I understood that a college degree would enable a better future for me and my family therefore it was deemed essential for my success in life. I chose BGSU because they gave me an opportunity to play football, and they provided me with free tuition.

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

 I wasn’t necessarily a first-gen college student; my mother earned her college degree. However, I was the first male to graduate from college in my family. Some of my challenges were adjusting to the freedom, managing time, and better understanding financial literacy. 

Freedom meant I was free to make my own decisions.  

I often made decisions that weren’t the best for me or my academics. This led to poor time management. 

Also…I often blew through “free money” very fast, leaving me to depend on others’ support for extended periods. 

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

The biggest benefit was the development of my social skills. This combined with the degree requirements for select jobs made me feel that college was absolutely necessary.

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

I would have sought more internship experiences and taken advantage of the resources that were offered. Also, I would have studied abroad. In today’s world, experience trumps education. Taking advantage of the internship opportunities and the inherited resources, I would have been better prepared and qualified for my career. 

I really wish I would have studied abroad for a semester or a six-week period. I’ve always wanted to visit a different country and immerse myself in a different culture. There was no better time than in college. 

5. What was it like being a student-athlete? 

Being a student-athlete was very much like being in a fraternity and working for a company. Sport is very emotional and the only people that understand and can relate to your personal situations are the ones that experience it with you. This develops a bond that is unwavering and memories that will last a lifetime. However, everyone has a role and there are bosses (position coaches) and executives (head coach, athletic director) that dictate your life.

6. What was a typical day like for you?

In-season, there was, 6:00a or 7:15a weight-lifting, class from 9:15-2pm, film and practice from 2:30-5:30pm, and a class at 6pm

In the off-season, there were 6:00a – 8:00a team workouts, class from 11-3pm, study table from 3-4:30, and 6pm class. Then, we had free time.  

7.  How did you keep education a top priority for you?

realized that I was compromising my future for something I was only going to play for one, maybe two more years and that didn’t sit well with me. For students that were below a certain threshold, academic services made sure education was their top priority.

…a 2.3 didn’t meet my academic standards, and it was time to make academics my main priority. After stepping away from football, I made the Dean’d List for each semester afterwards, and finished with a 3.4 GPA. 

8. What were some high points of being a student/athlete?

Making the trip! As an undersized athlete that takes a redshirt, the first goal I had was to “make the trip,” and travel with the team. I was able to accomplish that and play every game in the season. For some, that is no huge feat;  but for me, it was a high point. Other high points include defeating Minnesota, Toledo, Pittsburgh, and earning a letter and a bowl ring. 

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

Surround yourself with the right people. Those that understand what is important,

…seriously, I would say start strong; it’s so much harder to catch up. Also, take advantage of your resources and find something new that you enjoy outside of your sport and pursue it as well. 

Tagged , ,

Friday’s Feature: Angel Davison

Angel Davison, Café assistant/Caterer


Associate’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management (Ashworth Community College); Business Degree in Food Service Gourmet and Catering; currently working on Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management (Art Institute) 

1. Why did you decide to attend college?

I wanted to set a good example for my children, and to further my education in a field that I have a passion for.

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

The biggest challenge I faced was balancing school, work, being a single mother, and having a social life – all with no support system. I overcame this challenge by cutting out distractions and prioritizing my daily schedule better.


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

Completing college assisted me with finding a better paying job with benefits… My tuition is paid through my retirement benefits so I’m not in debt with college loans.


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

I think I would change the age I decided to start college. It should have been a decision I made fresh out of high school [versus] being 28 with a family and other distractions.


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

As an adult, it’s easy to get distracted from your goals and responsibilities when you don’t have your parents to constantly guide you on the right path. I found it helpful to associate myself with people/friends that have the same ambition and goals as I do. When you do this, you become each others support team and the “college life” doesn’t seem that hard. If your group of friends are all about clubbing and the social scene before studying and doing their homework, that’s not the crowd for you (unless you can multi-task very well.) A committed relationship, marriage, pregnancy, alcohol, drugs, and sometimes even a part-time job are all distractions from accomplishing your goal of earning good grades and graduating. 

Tagged , ,

Friday’s Feature: Cathy Cordova


Cathy Cordova, Business Administrator I (Texas A&M University), Junior majoring in History with a minor in Sociology (Sam Houston State University)

After exiting high school in the 10th grade and later earning her GED, Cathy focused on raising her children and working. Below, she tells Gen1Grad why she decided to go back and how she is making it work.

What made you go back to school now? Working at a place of Higher Education (here at TAMU) resurfaced the need to further my education. Having a supervisor that related to my situation, and encouraging me to go back to school.

What have been some challenges in going back to school? Time management is the biggest challenge. I returned with three small children, ranging from toddler to early elementary. Trying to balance full time employment, parenting responsibilities and school work is difficult. My grades are not what they could or should be but parenting responsibilities and work take priority.

What have been some of the highlights of going back? Learning. I enjoy Sociology the most, and love learning new ways of thinking about society or cultures. I like sharing some of what I am studying with my family.

Why was it so important for you to go back to school? It was so important because higher education was never really important or achievable to anyone in my family. 1 of 6 kids, and NONE of us graduated from high school, neither did our parents. You go to school until you can legally quit, then you get a job. That was the expectation and very common among Hispanic, low income families.

What advice would you give to someone else he was going back to school a little later in life? I would advise them to really invest in a time management tool, whether it be electronic or hard copy like a planner. Plan ahead as much as you can and prepare for life’s interruption because they happen frequently. Make the decision to not stop, no matter what comes your way. Take advantage of the student resources offered at school, like advising, counseling, and meeting with professors if you find yourself struggling in a class.

Is there anything you would like to add? I’m currently a Junior, just taking 6 hours a semester but, the older the kids have gotten, the harder it seems to devote time to school work. It really is difficult but they know how important it is to me and just including them by opening discussion at home when it’s affecting my grades seems to help. They become more aware of my “study time” and seem to be more helpful around the house during finals.

Wow! Great job Cathy. We are rooting for you and wish you nothing but success. You are an inspiration to people who are contemplating going back to school.


Tagged , ,

Gen1Grad Feature: A Generation of Justice

This week, the Gen1Grad feature is all of us.

It would be disingenuous to take attention away from a heavy issue in our world(s).

The issue I’m referring to is Injustice. It is one of the most poplar degree programs and majors at The Hate University. At this university, the mission is to create a society wherein people, organizations, educational expectations, and political systems meet all objectives associated with successfully sustaining a culture of hate, distrust, and apathy.

So I feature all of US today. Today, I celebrate the first generation of humans to graduate from a way of thinking (not necessarily from any higher education institution) that believes in humanity.

Graduates are expecting to meet the following basics criterion in order to graduate:

1. Think critically.

2. Analyze personal experiences.

3. Hold friends, social and media (and social media) outlets accountable for their assumptions.

4. Accept difference AND similarity.

5. Fight problems, not people.

6. Dialogue rather than argue.

7. Think about events as a 500-piece puzzle, rather than a 2-piece puzzle. Accept that things are rarely that simple.

Of course, each of you, as self-learners, can add to this list. But consider a generation of deep thinkers who see, live, communicate, and accept a life beyond simple this-or-that, either-or, apples-or-oranges thinking.

After all, apples and oranges have some similarities. The problem is that we are taught to only notice the differences.

Let’s become #Gen1Grads of a world of justice. What do you think? Can we do it?

Tagged , ,

Visit Campus – Now!

If you are a junior or senior in high school, RIGHT NOW is the time to get on campus!

What do I mean?

You should visit (if you can) any Colleges or Universities you are/will/will consider applying to.

Open Houses are a great opportunity to see the campus and get a feel for the culture of the place.

What should you ask yourself?

Are the people friendly? Are they helpful? Can you see yourself living, studying, volunteering, being challenges, and getting involved there? Are your questions answered?

In sum:
Visit the campus.
Get a feel for it.
Think about whether or not that is the place for you!

Tagged , , ,

The New Dream: Handling a Rejection Letter

You didn’t get into my dream school, now what? Now you dust your hurt feelings off and get ready to make the most out of your time at the school you did get into.

A lot of us don’t get our first choice. That doesn’t mean you get to sulk about it all the way through to graduation. You didn’t get into the dream school for some reason. You did get into your second or third choice for another reason. You may never know either reason, and you have to accept that and move on.

Moving on means making the school you will be attending your new dream. Get excited about your first day on campus. Get excited about your dorm room. Get excited about registering for some excitingly challenging classes. Get excited about meeting some amazingly diverse people. Just. Get. Excited.

By not getting into your “dream” school, you have already learned a real-life lesson. We don’t always get what we want. The lesson is: How you bounce back from that disappointment determines how you will do in the “real” world.

So, here’s to you! Kudos for not letting this bump in the road ruin your experience at your new dream school.

Tagged , , , ,

Think About it Thursdays

Main Entry: 1dil·i·gence

Pronunciation: \ˈdi-lə-jən(t)s\

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin diligentia, from diligent-, diligens

Date: 14th century

1 a : persevering application : assiduity b obsolete : speed, haste 2 : the attention and care legally expected or required of a person (as a party to a contract)

(Credit: http://www.m-w.com)

Are you being diligent with the things that matter most to you?

Think on it…

Tagged , , , ,

Keep Track of Application Deadlines

Not all colleges have the same deadlines. So, it is very important that you stay on top of things.

So, what should you do? Get a calendar AND use it. What should you put in there? General admission dates. Honors program dates. University scholarship dates. Community scholarship dates. FAFSA deadlines. Mark up that calendar! Color code it if you must.

Also, don’t wait until the last minute to fill out the applications. Apps take time and you don’t want to do a rush job because you could miss something. Guess what happens to incomplete applications: they get tossed. So take your time and give each application your undivided attention. Log off all of your sites. Turn off the TV. Take out the headphones.


Get your applications done.

Stay ahead of the game.

Tagged , , , ,