I grew up in a loving, blue-collar family in Western Pennsylvania. My parents were proud of me and wanted me to earn a college degree. However, none of us knew all that it would entail or the challenges: personal, academic, professional, and family, that the process of earning a degree would present.
When I arrived at college, I often did not understand the university culture and was ill-equipped to navigate it. I also felt a lot of pressure to succeed due to how much my parents had invested in me. I struggled with things such as choosing the right major, approaching professors with problems, living on a modest budget, and being focused on concerns at home.
I was fortunate to have some wonderful mentors who invested their time and energy to help me. Their help inspired me to pursue graduate studies and influenced the topic of my doctoral dissertation: the college adjustment of first-generation college students. Helping first-generation college students succeed remains a significant passion for me today.