First-Generation Student Stories
Nearly half our students are the first in their family to attend college. We are proud to provide the resources, education, and support that helps them reach their goals and break new ground. These are a few of our recent first-gen student stories.
Tabitha Rios hopes to share her experiences as a first-generation college student and a soldier with her daughter, as well as her future students.
When Rios graduated from high school in 2012 she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. She grew up in a financially unstable home and knew she wanted something better for her future. “I decided that while I waited to start a career I could see the world and meet new people.”
Rios enlisted in the United States Army and served for six years before returning to civilian life and eventually enrolling in the secondary education program at UC Blue Ash College. She says being the first in her family to go to college has been both rewarding and challenging.
Be proud of yourself for all that you have accomplished and stay motivated. Keep focusing on your goals.
"My family tells me how proud they are of me, but when it comes to support I feel like I can’t get it from them. Luckily, the veterans on campus are like my second family. I look forward to being a guide when my daughter decides what she plans to do with her life.”
Rios says her time in the military helped her discover a new passion for the past that is shaping her future.
“In the military and visiting new locations, I had the opportunity to see so much. It sparked a flame in my brain, and I began reading books, articles, even collecting small “fact” books. After graduating I want to become a high school history teacher. I find it thrilling to look at the past, and I want to spread my passion as much as I can.”
Her advice to fellow first-generation college students, “Be proud of yourself for all that you have accomplished and stay motivated. Keep focusing on your goals.”
I grew up in Milford, Ohio and graduated from Milford High School in 2020.
I always knew that I was meant to be an educator. When searching for colleges/universities, I wanted to find a place where I could be supported as a first-gen student; that’s how I landed at UC Blue Ash! I’m studying Middle Childhood Education with a minor in Spanish. After graduating, I plan to attain a master’s degree and then possibly a PhD or EdD in Education!
My family is proud of me and they remind me all of the time! All of the hard work pays off when I see the joy on my mom’s face when I tell her about each achievement.
Being a first-generation college student can be challenging. You may stumble, but try not to be hard on yourself. Remember that you’re not only learning the class material, but you’re also learning how to be a college student on your own. It’s a weight to carry, so give yourself grace and take advantage of the resources available to you. You can do it!
Chukwuebuka (Josh) Obi
I am originally from Lagos, Nigeria, but I moved to the United States with my mother when I was 14 years old. I attended Gilbert A. Dater High School in the Cincinnati Public School system, and chose to attend college at UC Blue Ash to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice.
As a first-generation student, I was able to live in the 1MPACT House (special Gen-1 community) on UC's Uptown campus, and used the free campus shuttle to get to my classes at Blue Ash. By staying on the Uptown campus, I was able to get all the benefits of living on a large campus while attending classes on a smaller campus with lots of individual attention.
I love my community at UC Blue Ash. I've made so many connections here with my peers, professors and even staff members. The Success Coaches helped me with navigating my financial aid, and answered any questions I had about how to be a college student. The Student Life office helped me get connected with the Men of Color Collaborative and with leadership opportunities as a Student Orientation Leader.
My advice to first-gen students would be to experience as much as you can. The more people you meet and the more connections you make, the better your college experience will be. If you have a dream and want to make it happen, it's possible -- just stay dedicated and grab that dream!
I grew up in Washington Court House, Ohio and I graduated from Washington Senior High School.
My parents didn’t know how to help me plan for the transition to college or how to use the resources available. I decided that I wanted to do more than just “get by” with my education, so I got involved with different student leadership opportunities. My goal is to graduate from UC’s public health program and go back to serve my hometown community.
My family was stressed about me going to college, but now that I’ve been at UC Blue Ash and have taken advantage of the amazing resources offered here they only worry about normal things all parents do when their kids are away from home. They’re also incredibly proud of everything I’ve accomplished and how much I’ve grown since starting at UCBA.
My advice to first-gen students is to plan realistically. There’s pressure to go where everyone else is going, but unless you have a great scholarship, I’d encourage you to consider a two-year college. Making sure you have the means to pay for college, whatever that looks like for you, eliminates some of the stressors many people associate with college.
Student Veteran, Navy
I am from the Village of Elmwood Place and graduated from St. Bernard-Elmwood Place High School in 2007.
I decided to attend college because I wanted change. I knew my military experience and high school education could only take me so far. I was not the best student in high school, returning to school was scary, but I knew if I want to reach my goal I have to take the college path. I want to get accepted into the UC social work master’s program and become a social worker for the Cincinnati V.A. Medical Center so I can assist veterans who are returning from military service.
Being a first-generation student is an honor; my family is excited I made the decision to attend college. Their support is a key factor in the success I have had.
My advice to first-generation students is you are not alone, there are many of us and we’re all in this together. Be sure to use the resources! I was intimidated to go to the UC Blue Ash math lab because my math skills were so poor, but the first time I went I was hooked. I go there every day now to receive expert assistance from the more-than-willing tutors.
I grew up in Cleves, Ohio and graduated from Taylor High School. My motivation for pursuing a college education is so I’m equipped with the skills and education to make a difference in the world. I also want to provide a stable life for myself and hopefully my own family too. I’m studying Early Childhood Education; I want to finish my bachelor's degree and then get certified in different teaching philosophies (like Montessori).
I grew up with the notion that I would go to college, even though my parents and grandparents did not. They have always encouraged me and supported me, and I know they would support me even if I decided not to go to college.
The advice I would give to future first-gen students is to never be afraid to reach out for help! Learning how to apply and enroll at a college, especially with loans, can be extremely daunting. Connect with any available resources at your disposal and remember to be patient with yourself as you go through this experience. College is a big learning curve for anyone, but even more so for first-generation students (and that's okay!).
I grew up in a suburban area of Cincinnati and attended Princeton High School. My motivation to go to college comes from my parents. I am majoring in biology and my future goals are to become a family practitioner and help others around the world by working in international hospitals. I have always been passionate about medicine ever since I was little.
My family is proud that I graduated high school and continue my studies/education to help my family and the community. It is a lot of pressure being a first-generation college student, but it is all worth it. My advice to other first-gen students is to always ask for help because that will go a long way. I wish I knew that, instead of doing my own trial and error in college.
I grew up in Bethel, Ohio and graduated from Bethel-Tate High School in 2019.
I made the decision to go to college because I want to ensure that my future children won't have to go through financial hardships, and to make sure I can provide for myself and my family. My future goals are to attend medical school and become a cardiologist.
My family unfortunately does not support my decision to go to college. They wanted me to go straight into the workforce, but I made the decision that I knew would be best for me and chose to attend college.
As a first-generation student, I have dealt with a lot of hardships, financially and emotionally, but I have come to realize that those hardships have made me into a better and stronger person. No matter what challenges you face as a student, just know that if you put in the work and keep pushing forward, you can achieve any goal you set for yourself.