Tag Archives: Gen1

An Open Letter to the Graduate: “To Sweet Baby Girl”


To my Sweet Baby Girl:

As your graduation approaches I’ve pondered what I would get you as a gift. Should I buy you a car, diamonds, purses, or just give you money? I questioned what you would want the most. Lord knows, I would give you the world if I could. Being as though we both know the world is not mine to give, I had to go back to the drawing board. Finally, I decided to give you something that the entire world could see. 

I fell in love with you the moment I laid eyes on you. You were the prettiest baby I ever saw. You were and will forever be my everything. I vowed that I would always take care of you and give you all that I had to offer. 

Whenever I felt like giving up, I was reminded that I had someone looking up to me. I desired to lead by example. I wanted you to experience all that life has to offer. I wanted to show you that there are so many wonderful opportunities for you. I also wanted to show you that we serve a God that is ABLE and through Him you can do ALL things because He gives you strength! One thing that I know for sure, we can’t make it without Him. 

Now you are a young adult; you are going to be doing your own thing. It is my prayer that you continue to stand strong in your faith. I pray that you continue to trust God in all that you do. 

Baby girl, you are about to embark on a new chapter of life. Take it one day at a time. There will be people and situations that try to challenge your beliefs; never let them get to you. 

Each and every one of us have been tested. Just remember all tests are open books (keep the word of God with you at all time!) 

As you walk across that stage and prepare for your future, I want you to know that I am proud of you. I shed a tear every time I think about you not being a little girl anymore, but you will always be my baby girl.

I miss the days of you wanting to hold hands while we were walking through the malls. I still can’t believe at four and five-years old you didn’t want McDonald’s or Wendy’s, you just had to have Applebee’s! 

Though those days are over, I’m grateful I have those memories. 

Akkeyvia, you are so special. You are so deserving. You are blessed. God has great things in store for your life! 

I could go on and on about how much I love you and how I am proud of you, but I’ll end with one of my favorite scriptures…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not onto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths! (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I love you with all that is within me!

Mommy Arica

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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. 

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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. 

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

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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Thoughts. Behaviors. Destinies.


Photo source unknown.

Too many times we want to blame other people (family, friends, foes, and haters) for our failures. Sure. They may play a role in our downfall. BUT, we control our thoughts. Our thoughts then control our behaviors. And our behaviors impact our destiny. Stop cheating yourself of your destiny because you are letting your thoughts convince you that the destiny is impossible.

Enough said.

Change your thoughts.

Change your behaviors.

Change your destiny.

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Don’t Let Stress Become Normal


Photo credit: access.ewu.edu

It’s about that time when stress joins the class like it’s a student that was added late.

So, here are 10 tips for handling stress:

1. NEVER accept stress as normal. Please don’t buy into the idea that because you are in college, you must be stressed out. That is so not true! Stress is a choice.

2. Get your rest. That may mean sneaking in naps throughout the day (NOT IN CLASS). Try to get as much sleep as possible at night. Turn off the TV. Get off your phone. Focus on getting some rest. Give your mind, body, and soul a break.

3. Exercise. I don’t have to explain this one. Walk. Run. Bicycle. Lift weights. Get your yoga own. Do something that you enjoy that will allow you to relieve some stress.

4. Meditate. You can find some basic tips in this article by Revitalize entitled “Everything You Need to Know About Meditation.”

5. Enjoy a meal. So often we multi-task when eating without actually enjoying the food. Take some time to actual taste your food.

6. Listen to music. Put on your favorite song(s) or album. Or, listen to something new via a new Pandora station.

7. Laugh. A lot. If you need a little assistance, check out a YouTube video of laughing babies, pets doing tricks , anything. Just laugh.

8. Get some fresh air. Go outside, even if for just a few minutes. Let the Sun shine on your face. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Be present in this space for a few moments.

9. Talk. Yes, like, actually talk to someone. Vent. Tell them a good story. Pray with them. Introduce yourself. Interacting with others can take our minds off of the things that bother us the most – even if it is just for a few moments.

10. Do something mindless (for a short period of time). We cannot (and should not) “be on” all the time. Watch crappy TV. Read a magazine. Play Trivia Crack. Take your mind off of all of the things that you have to get done.

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Motivational Mondays: Inspire Others

We should all strive to be an inspiration to others! Work hard. Live well. Connect with those around you. Seek out opportunities. Be present in the moment. You never know when, where, why, or how you will motivate someone else to keep fighting, change their ways, or create something of value.



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Friday Feature

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

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



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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Motivational Mondays

Ambition is putting a ladder against the sky. ~American Proverb

We spend too much time focusing on how hard it will be to reach our dreams. Don’t let that stop you from trying. Be a go-getter. Dig deep for your ambition. Go grab your ladder. Find your place in the sky. Now climb!

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