My name is Christina Bowles, and I am proud to be a First-Generation college graduate. When I graduated from high school, I had no idea that I would eventually go on to receive two Master’s degrees—I didn’t even know what a Master’s degree was! Since neither of my parents went to college, they offered me a lot of support, but often didn’t have the answers or advice that I desperately needed. Thankfully, I was able to connect with faculty and staff on campus who guided me along the way.
My Introduction to University Life instructor encouraged me to become a Peer Leader. I truly believe this is where my desire to work in higher education was born. I never would have considered the opportunity because like many first-year students, I did not think I would be qualified. Thankfully, my instructor saw the potential that I failed to see, and I am now an academic advisor.
When I was nearing graduation, I learned about graduate school. I decided that I wanted to pursue a Master’s degree, but again, was concerned about my ability and finances. I brought up these concerns to my Old Testament professor (I minored in Religious Studies), and he advised me to apply for a graduate assistantship. Again—I didn’t even know such a thing existed! Due to his support, I received an assistantship that covered the costs of my first Master’s degree.
Now, I serve as an academic advisor, and I get to pay it forward! Without folks in my corner cheering for me, I am not sure I would be where I am today. My advice to first-generation students, and any students really, is to develop your cheering section! Make connections with faculty, staff, and students to help you achieve your goals. Never believe that you are not good enough—especially when someone believes in you.
Christina Bowles, Academic Advisor
Academic Advising and Transfer Center