Bryce Buckley

Bryce BuckleyCurrent Position: Financial Aid Counselor

Alma Mater: University of Iowa

Major/Undergraduate field of study: Psychology

What was it like being among the first in your family to go to college? 

The first words that come to mind: awkward, confusing, overwhelming. My family took a very hands-off approach to me going to college. Their thought process was that they did not know what to do, so they did not want to guide me in the wrong direction. Though their intentions were (and still are) much appreciated, I most certainly needed help. It felt like I was learning a new language. In my mind I thought, "How hard can it be?" I'll apply, if I get in, I'll sign up for classes and find a place to live. Easy! It is not that easy. Although I found it difficult and cumbersome, I was lucky enough to have excellent mentors to help guide me through those four years. I learned so much. The best part of it all, I was able to help other family members once they decided to pursue higher education as well!

Are there any unique challenges you faced as a First Generation student?

I faced many of the challenges that first generation students experience: time management, asking for help, and, most of all, money. I terms of unique challenges, I would say that coming from small town Iowa was one of the most difficult challenges. There were so many things that other people seemed to know so much about or, at least, had experience with going into college. I had never studied for a test before. My high school had two AP courses, and they did not start until my junior year. So, I had one opportunity for an AP course experience. I had little or no experience with a lot of the technology based learning that I had in college. My interactions with other took me a while to figure out as well. Many of my peers were coming from much more populous areas and had exposure to cultural experience that I had not. This made it hard for me to engage with my peers for a long while when I first started college.

Do you have any advice for FGEN students at UP that are facing challenges?

ASK FOR HELP! It's okay! In fact, it's going to be a lot better if you do. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. It may take a little while to find where you feel most in-tune with those around you. However, it will be much easier if you seek those individuals out rather than waiting for them to find you. Ask for additional resources. I did a lot of research while in college to find ways to succeed. But, the staff and faculty had so many more resources! Many were even better than what I was able to find on my own. Join a student group or organization! It's an easy way to find people that you share common interests with and can open doors for you as well. I had no idea how much I loved higher education until I started working on campus and actively participating in student organizations.

Did a mentor play a role in your FGEN experience?  How so? 

I would not have made it through my first year if it was not for Becky Wilson. I started working at the front desk of my residence hall. She was such an incredible individual. She is the person that motivated me to put myself out there and join groups and meet new people. This process also many academia easier on me because I learned how to connect with people in my classes as well.

How do you feel your experience prepared you, both professionally and personally?

I grew so much. In small town Iowa, you pretty much just learn small town Iowa things. I had such a robust and dynamic experience. That experience was not handed to me. I had to put in a ton of effort and learn to put myself in others' shoes. However, it helped me to see what that hard work could do for me. Since graduating, I have met incredible people, had professional experience I never thought possible, and I have achieved many of my goals much sooner than I ever thought I would. I loved it so much, I decided to make higher education my career path.

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