Ivy Kepner

Growing up on a working farm in rural Pennsylvania, I never felt the pressure to do well in school in order to improve my chances of getting into college. College was not expected, or even discussed. Instead, my parents placed emphasis on working hard. This strong work ethic sparked a determination inside of me to continuously challenge myself mentally and physically. With no assistance from family or my high school guidance counselor, I chose to attend a private, liberal arts college based on the percentage of graduating students who went on to law school.

As I entered Dickinson College, I had tremendous confidence in myself and believed that I could easily accomplish this next educational step in my life. Quickly, I felt completely overwhelmed and discouraged because my peers seemed better prepared for the coursework, understood the lingo or had the support and guidance of others who understood the landscape and how to navigate it. And, I had to work while in college so I did not have the opportunity to get involved a lot on campus either. While my GPA suffered greatly during that first semester, my determination pushed me to forge ahead.

Having the opportunity to spend my junior year living abroad in Bologna, Italy was a transformative experience that greatly influenced and shaped many decisions and experiences I have made personally and professionally. It was in this year abroad that I found an amazing college mentor who pushed me to explore and understand more of the world around me. She also encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone. I believe my first year in college could have been markedly different if I had been linked with a strong female mentor like her as I entered college.

In 2012, after spending 17 years thriving in 1000+ lawyer firms in New York City, I returned to the farmhouse, where I grew up, to start my own family. I am thankful for the varying life experiences that have helped shape me and, as a member of the Bucknell University community, I hope to forge strong bonds with other first-generation college students as they navigate unfamiliar landscape and encounter challenges along their college path.