Peter McNamara

I don't know the exact numbers, but a large percentage of college students in Ireland are first-generation. The reason for this is that there are only seven universities in the whole country, and there were even fewer for the previous generation, so most of my peers' parents would not have been to college. Also quite common is that I commuted from home for my first two years, and I had an older sibling who also went to university. For these reasons, my undergraduate experience was easier than for many first-generation students at Bucknell.

A much more difficult transition for me was moving to the U.S. for graduate school. The whole system was different to what I knew, especially the more challenging and relentless homework, but also just learning how things are done in a different country. Even though Ireland and the U.S. share a language, the cultural and social differences can easily be underestimated. The first few weeks were a roller-coaster ride, and the first semester was disheartening when I had difficulty keeping up, and everybody else seemed better prepared than me for the course work.

With hard work and perseverance, things improved and I regained some confidence. After four years, having grown a lot, I was ready to move on to the next step in my career. I hope that GenFirst!@Bucknell can help our students overcome their challenges, whatever they may be, and thrive at Bucknell.