My First Generation Story - Bobby Smith
I am a first-generation college student.
I was born in Dallas, Texas into a family unit that lacked the correct structure to positively support a child. I moved to Bartlett, Tennessee, shortly after I was born and placed in the care of my aunt and grandmother. These two lovely ladies, alongside my uncle, would raise me in an environment full of love and encouragement and also provided me with a clear path to success.
"As an orientation guide, I also found that one of my most favorite parts of the college experience is providing a sense of comfort to first-generation students like me and helping them to figure out what it is that they want to do."
I've always had a passion for writing. I would spend hours on the computer developing my own stories with other people from around the world with complicated plots and underlying messages. However, I lacked a real care for school throughout my freshman year of high school. The loss of my grandmother and biological father within months of each other made me realize that I wanted more out of myself and pushed me to excel in school. I began to spend a lot more time studying for quizzes and exams which raised my GPA to a 3.9 by the end of my high school career. I couldn't thank writing enough for being my escape to another dimension, another time, another life.
My original route to college didn't go exactly as I thought it would. I had previously planned to attend a different university but decided on the University of Memphis after being one of the 421 students selected for the First Scholars Program. The road to college wasn't very easy, however, but I'm beyond happy that I decided to come to the U of M. This opportunity truly provided me with not only the structure, but the advising that I needed as I made the transition into adulthood. I didn't really have any idea what I wanted to do with my life at this point, but my family has always pushed me to go to college. They are like my own personal cheerleading squad, and it's pretty cool. I never would have found such a sense of pride in myself without the support of these people whom I call family.
My involvement is probably one of the most rewarding parts of my experiences in college. As a first-generation student and an extrovert, I feel that one of the reasons for my success in school is because of the people that I've met in my first year. I believe that organizations that truly give students a voice are the ones that have the most impact. The first-generation organization Tigers First was one of the first meetings that I attended upon coming to college. I found this to be not only a very safe, but welcoming environment for all students. My experiences, including my Greek organization have given me a sense of what I can do whenever I put my mind to something. I'm very thankful for these different groups on campus that not only provided me with support on campus, but also with the opportunity to grow.
As an orientation guide, I also found that one of my most favorite parts of the college experience is providing a sense of comfort to first-generation students like me and helping them to figure out what it is that they want to do. It's most likely because that's how I began my college journey. I love advice. I don't only love giving advice, but I also love receiving it—and what I can tell you is that it's going to be okay. Do not be afraid to try new things or ask for help. Do not take this time for granted. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You never know where this crazy world called college could take you, even as a first-generation student. Who knows how many people will impact you and in return how many people you will impact as well.