When was the last time, you did something for the first time?

“In a word I was a pioneer, and therefore had to blaze my own trail.” – Marshall “Major” Taylor

Grad Cap

There is no denying that Graduating College is an amazing milestone. Everyone’s journey to getting to that stage however, is very different. My experience in particular, I am proud of.

I graduated high school in 2010. Where I am from, not many people go to college. However, I decided to attend community college. Although my family was very supportive, they couldn’t offer much help because no one before me went to college.

I started this entirely new journey on my own. I remembered being so scared and nervous all the time. I wasn’t confident in who I was and felt I was undeserving of a college education. So, when my second semester of my first year concluded, I decided I would not return. My decision for dropping-out was directly motivated by fear. I feared failure but also the idea that I could succeed. I allowed my insecurities to take flight and what came easiest to me, emerged.

For a year, all I did was work at a job that I knew I would never have a bright future at. Life felt pointless. Waking every morning without dreams, hope, and nothing to look forward to, eventually became the biggest fear I’ve ever known.

I returned to school part-time while also working full time. I took a course or two just to feel alive again—to look forward to something. Loving the feeling of seeing my hard work pay off drove me to commit myself to earning my associates degree. I swore I was done with school my last semester before completion. But then, the desire to push myself farther, kicked in.

After deciding I now wanted a Bachelor’s, I applied to three Universities.  In high school, I was rejected by ALL three of these schools. This time, I got into ALL three (I guess it pays off to be on Dean’s List).

However, deciding what school to attend was one of the hardest choices I had to make.  Ultimately, finances made the decision for me. Part of the reason none of my family has ever gone to college was because they couldn’t afford to. In the end, I choose the higher education institution that allowed me to keep my full-time job and was closest to home. That way, I could support my education.

When I transferred to William Paterson University of New Jersey, It became obvious, I belonged there. I knew I made the right choice when I discovered the University’s nickname was “Pioneers”.

I was awarded a partial scholarship and I eventually quit my job and went to school full-time. I had to take out more loans, but I manage. This gave me an opportunity to not only be a college student, but also be present on campus by participating in clubs and events.

Upon completing my Bachelor’s degree, I made Dean’s list every semester, graduated with Latin Honors, made lifelong friendships, and discovered my true self and true purpose. It took me nearly six years to finish College, but it was worth it. Today, I have two degrees and I am proud of who I am. I plan to start my Master’s next year. Not bad for a First-generation College graduate, I suppose.

Being a first-generation college graduate will forever be a label I will be honored to carry. I am a PIONEER.

Watch this inspiring video about other first-generation college students.

In the words of Alicia Keys, “This girl is on fire”. My trail is burning bright. Set the fire in your heart ablaze and see where it takes you.




30 Comments Add yours

  1. Roger says:

    Great article and I enjoyed reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ”Upon completing my Bachelor’s degree, I made Dean’s list every semester, graduated with Latin Honors, made lifelong friendships, and discovered my true self and true purpose. It took me nearly six years to finish College, but it was worth it.” … THIS right here, is an amazing achievement. and i know it soooo well. ( discovering my true self and purpose taking my 5 years to complete undergraduate) i am so happy its over, but proud i persevered. Well done girl… i now live my life round doing things for the first time, so i have many first time memories.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you so much for this! Keep improving, you got this!


  3. jennyrose says:

    Amazing, thanks so much for sharing your story, you’re an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it! xo


  4. This is very inspirational. I think we should all try new things. I think too many people live their whole lives just doing the same old thing over and over because it’s what “everybody else was doing.” We should dare to dream big dreams and when necessary take big risks. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I concur, we must keep improving ourselves.


  5. candidcommentsbychris says:

    Congratulations, hard work pays off, you have an achievement that no one can take away.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations! What an amazing achievement. I’m not the first in my family to go to college, but I have a similar story. I went to college straight from school and was so afraid of failing, that I dropped out (of course, I didn’t realize that was why at the time.) I went back as a mature student, made the dean’s list, and graduated with honours. It’s all about mind frame. Keep up your great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Glad you preserved and stayed with it!


  7. I applaud you for your tenacity and determination, congratulations! That’s what mang people are lack of. When they fail the first time, the second time or the thrid time, they would accept it.
    But you have the spirit! Congratulations. I would like to invite you to join our community to inspire more people.
    Get intouch with us at https://www.empoweringanduplifting.com if yoj would like to be a part of other people’s journey in creating their own happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I will definitely check that out because I feel it’s important to inspire and learn from each other


      1. You’re right, just send us a message when you’re ready ☺️


  8. Amazing and very inspiring!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Tanya Finks says:

    Congratulations, Katherine. I LOVE your story! Thanks so much for sharing it. I was on the 10 year plan when it came to my bachelor’s degree. I got completely distracted by life. Did it my own way. But when i finally finished, I was so proud of my accomplishment. My parents also did not go to college. So I was discovering it on my own. And something changed when I finally finished. I took with me a confidence that I can finish what I start. I can see it through. I, too, now have a Master’s degree and a graduate certificate, and truly believe I can achieve anything. Your story will be an inspiration to many. Thanks again for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate you so much. Congrats to you as well for all your accomplishments! Keep being resilient and keep pushing!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So inspirational! Congratulations!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This was very sweet to read. I was not the first of my generation to go to college but I can relate in some ways to your experience. I worked full time and went to college full time. I had to pay my way through school so I had to go to a school near me. I didn’t have time for clubs or any other school related activities but even working full time and going to school full time I was on the Dean’s list every year and graduated Magna Cum Laude. Not so bad for girl from a Queens NY hood. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You go girl!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3.8-4.0 GPA !

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great article Katherine!

    Liked by 1 person

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