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Jericho Knight

Jericho Knight

 

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

I briefly attended college a couple times before taking a few years off to develop the life skills and discipline I needed to truly succeed in higher education. Growing up, the idea of college was a luxury for those in my immediate surroundings. In my neighborhood, only the truly brilliant were admitted into the university, and only if they were also very, very lucky. The rest of us were better off getting a job right out of high school (if not before.) Luckily, I was a voracious reader and recognized that higher education could offer me an avenue to even more options than I might be able to find by trying to learn everything contained between the books in my local library.

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

Without models or a family tradition of higher education, I didn't know about the many supports and opportunities available in college. Office hours, advisors, course packets and reserves, research opportunities, library resources and other learning supports were all completely foreign to me. The idea of following a course of study in order to develop expertise in a single discipline (rather than just taking classes that seemed interesting at the time) also didn't occur to me - it's no wonder I had a couple false starts! Since I did not attend high school, I had the additional challenge of having fairly undeveloped study skills, though I'd always loved learning. I think my willingness to keep trying after those false starts put me in the position to succeed in college and beyond. Rather than framing my earlier attempts as failures, I just saw them as an opportunity to change direction and try something different..

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

Recognize that there are so many people here at the University who are invested in your learning experience! The professors and staff want to be a resource to you and love to help you learn and succeed. Your questions won't reflect badly on you - they will demonstrate that you are invested in your own learning and growth!

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

I didn't have a mentor in any of my educational experiences - not because there weren't people who cared, but because I was too embarrassed to ask or reach out for help and guidance. I didn't know how to ask for help or advice and was (unnecessarily) intimidated by the idea of having a conversation with my teachers. I'm sure my experience would have been much better had I taken my advice (see above.)

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

I think my experience has prepared me to be thoughtful about my own life choices, to recognize that I can decide how to  respond to any situation I find myself in and not let the situation decide for me..

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