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Dr. Jeromy Koffler

Jeromy A. Koffler

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

I was just dropped off at my residence hall and then my parents left. They didn't understand what Orientation was and certainly didn't think it was for them. Looking back on it now, I think they were really uncomfortable because they did not know how to support me at college. I was very thankful for my RA, because he introduced me to some other students and that really helped, because four of us quickly became a pretty tight-knit squad. I think what helped me the most was having that close group of friends to support me, especially throughout my first year.

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

We didn't have cell phones then, so in order to call home we had to save up our quarters and wait for the payphone to become available in the residence hall laundry room. I quickly adjusted and began writing letters, as a stamp was much less expensive, and it was really fun to get return mail from family. I also realized that because of the distance, I couldn't depend upon my friends from high school as much, so I really focused on meeting lots of people so that I could build a new support system.

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

Ask lots of questions! Even if they seem to be repetitive or obvious. People are always willing to help or to share good ways to solve problems, but they are not always aware that you have any needs.

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

Yes! I had a theater arts professor that took an interest in me and encouraged me to get involved. It think it was because of him that I was able to balance my school work with other extracurricular activities. Otherwise, I probably would have just worried about my grades and spent a lot more time alone in the library. He also helped me when I decided at the end of my freshman year to change my major from Business to Humanities.

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

I was forced to become independent pretty quickly, so I think this prepared me to get out of my comfort zone and get to know more people. I became more able to rely on my own instincts and make decisions for myself, and to be honest, this allowed me to pursue my interests and not just follow the path my parents had laid out for me.

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