“First generation student”—it took years for me to understand what that meant and why I was a part of such an ELITE group of college students with this label…but how elite was it?
College was always the right choice for me, though nobody else in my family attended. As a first generation student, I completed community college with an Associate’s Degree, undergraduate school with a Bachelor’s Degree, graduate school with a Master’s Degree, and am currently pursing a Doctorate Degree. So you see, college was and will always be the right choice for me.
I had no role models, no one from whom to seek advice. I was indeed setting and raising the bar in terms of college and all that it brings! That is the motto of the ELITE.
As a Student Affairs Professional, mentorship is a priority. I work with a lot of ELITE first generation students, and it is a pleasure to embark on a journey with them toward personal and professional success. I realize that I had to go without so others would not have to!
The most rewarding experience thus far has been watching this ELITE group of students come to campus as freshman or transfer students and then sitting in the audience at their graduation. My first group of students entered college in 2011 and graduated in 2015. I just watched my most recent group of mentees graduate, and as tradition, I provided them words of encouragement:
“The path is not always clear, the struggles at times don’t seem justified; however your perseverance shall be recognized. Today will be full of emotions. Emotions that I encourage you to embrace. Today, I thank you for taking the exit to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Because on this exit, you somehow made a pit stop to my office. During the pit stop we were transparent and uplifted one another. So thank you. Be intentional and serve others before you lead them. You have the key to success, and we, your supporters, have walked you to the door. Turn the key, and walk into your destiny. Lastly, remember, you can set the bar, and you can raise the bar!” – Ms. Dixon
The journey is not meant to be easy. The detours, exits, and pit stops are parts of the journey. As we continue to serve students, let’s have a open mind and a genuine readiness to serve, because we never know when and how their journey will lead them to us.
I may not reach all of the ELITE, but I will cherish and enrich the lives of those I do!