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Norma Gowans



What was it like being among the first in your family to go to college?  Tell us about your story, and what you think has helped you succeed so far at UP?

 Being one of the first people in my family to go to college is one my proudest achievements. My parents have always raised us to value education and be grateful for those who guide us on our academic journey. It makes me feel accomplished to see how proud I've made them by following my dream of continuing school. I'm fortunate to have parents that devoted all that they had in making sure I was working hard in my studies and were my emotional support. Knowing my family supports my dreams and encourages me to succeed in my education is my road to success. 

What does it mean for you to be a part of the FGEN community and to be a FGEN Student Ambassador at UP?

It is amazing to know there is a community on campus whose members all have had similar, if not the same struggles, I've had. Being able to talk to these wonderful people that is the FGEN community gives me peace at mind and the encouragement to keep moving towards our goal.

What is your advice to FGEN students at UP who are facing challenges?

My advice for first generation students who are facing challenges are, you are not struggling alone and we are here to help each other. Do not be afraid to talk about your struggles: emotionally or academically. You will find someone who understands what you are going through and by the end you will have a friend (yes teachers are your friends).

Has a mentor played a role in your experience at UP?  How so?

My family and teachers have all been significant mentors in my life at UP.  If I feel stressed or overwhelmed with what is college, my family is always there to talk about what I'm feeling. I have had long conversations on the phone sorting out my emotions and talk through things until I am at ease. Teachers have been great mentor in my life because  the have given me knowledge. They are always eager to help with my struggles that I'm  having in the class and learn the material. Having a balance of these two mentors in my life means everything.

What resources have been significant, meaningful, or helpful for you during your UP experience?

Teachers are the biggest resource that I have here on campus. One of my favorite things to do is go see a teacher during office hours and talk about the material/life in general. They have so much knowledge to share and the desire for students to learn. I like to think it makes their day more interesting to talk to a student and have a little chat.


Know that you are here for a reason and have all the tools to succeed. If you think about it, you've  been "doing school" for almost the entirety of your life. Yes, college is different, but not that different. The challenges are harder and the obstacles are bigger , but it's not impossible. These challenges make life interesting and mold who you into the wonderful human that you are. You are more resilient than you give yourself credit for.

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