Faculty & Staff Stories


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Zinga Hart

First Gen Staff, College of Communication and Information 

As a first-generation college student, I remember leaving college after my first year to help my family. However, my grandmother encouraged me to press on and complete my degree. I realized that I worked too much while attending school and the academic support staff helped me re-prioritize my short-term money goals for my long-term financial dreams. First-gen advocacy is important to me because we can miss a lot of what helps us succeed in college by just not knowing what resources are available. I would recommend asking questions and tapping into resources available to you because you deserve it!

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Martha (Marti) Ann Coles

First Gen Staff, Performing Arts, School of Theater and Dance

What I remember most about my First-Gen journey is that I didn’t take this journey alone. I was a non-traditional student with two children, along with my older sister and her two children, two nieces with their children and other family members who lived in the Allerton Apartments (KSU Family housing dormitories). This was an enriching environment for us and our children because of the opportunity to live among international students, some of which are still friends of mine today. I am glad to say that most of my family members graduated.  I would tell a first-generation student to ask questions until you get the answer that will help you. There are so many resources and people available to help you on campus, so seek them out!

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Keya Jennings

First Gen Staff, College of Education, Health and Human Services

I felt that I was not capable enough or smart enough during my experience. I felt that I had to make scarifies as a single parent. My family and friends helped me on my journey towards degree completion. I believe it is important to pay it forward to support students with their challenges and successes to help them be resilient. I would advise students to not give up and ask for help. Utilize all resources available to you!

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Lorene Martin

First Gen Faculty, College of Nursing

I remember the struggle of completing my Nursing degree since I had two small children and a limited income.  I worked three part-time jobs and drove over an hour to take my classes here at Kent State. On graduation day, I was thrilled knowing that I had accomplished my goal and would be better able to care for myself and my children. My family supported me as well as I had a great deal of community support and encouragement that helped me with my degree completion. First Gen advocacy is important to me because neither of my parents or grandparents attended college. It was difficult for them to understand the challenges associated with a college level education.  For first generation students, set reasonable, realistic goals and remember to take care of yourself while working towards your degree. There is no prize for getting done “the fastest” …sometimes a break is necessary to assure your success.

I Am First Staff

Thank you for your willingness to complete the I AM FIRST: First-Generation Spotlight!

The purpose of the survey is to share experiences, tips, and advice with other first-generation students who are navigating campus life for college success.

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