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Parker Elliott



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?

It has been the scariest privilege of my life.  Being the first to get into college had me feeling simultaneously empowered and stressed.  On the one hand, I feel like I am trailblazing for my family.
No one has ever done anything like this in my family.  I remember when I first got to school, it felt like my family was racing around campus with me to ask as many questions about how this whole college thing worked; and once they left, I felt very nervous about the task ahead.  College has been a huge challenge that I have the chance to face head on, and that drives me to do well and thrive in this environment.  At the same time though, I have had no reference for what will happen to me during my time at the University.  In my family I don’t have too many resources, and a lot of the responsibilities and tasks I have compiling in front of me can seem both daunting and overwhelming.  I remember coming to one of the pastoral residents many a time to talk about the things I was going through and to help me when I was loosing my nerves.  It was resources like Brother Thomas, Matt Daily, the FGEN community, and the resources on campus, as well as the constant love and encouragement from my family, that have helped me to thrive in this new environment.

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

Being a part of the FGEN community has been a special part of my life.  It is an honor to help work with all of the students like me who have so much extra weight on their shoulders, and still choose to fight on and strive for more.  It is the dedication we all have to bettering our lives and the lives of those around us that really makes our community special.  Being an FGEN Ambassador on top of it all is a deeply gratifying and humbling experience to know that I get to work for such inspiring people and help them to see their dreams come to fruition.  It honestly feels less like a job and more like a service that helps me equally as much as it helps the community.

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

I think the biggest college myth for FGEN students is that you have to face the challenges alone.  This is not true.  We have entire departments on campus dedicated to providing help to students who feel like they are struggling and overwhelmed with their responsibilities.  College is not about learning the skills to run your life perfectly on your own.  It is about networking, building connections, learning how to work with people, and learning how to use any resources available to you to help you in your everyday life.  The problem for FGEN students like myself is that they think asking for help shows weakness, and shows that they can’t handle what they have been given to accomplish.  In reality, asking for help is one of the biggest shows of strength a person can display.  It shows that they are comfortable not knowing how to do something, but are willing to put everything they have into figuring out a solution to the problem.  That way they build connections with people, move past the problem faster, and are able to continue striving towards even more future successes. 

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

Brother Thomas has been an important mentor for me.  He has always made himself available to talk with me about all of my stresses and concerns, and hears me out - even if I am venting about the same anxieties I was struggling with before.  He also wasn't afraid to ask me the hard questions, like if I still liked my major and if I was putting to much pressure on myself.  Brother Thomas taught me the importance of taking time out of my life for myself, and how to reflect on it constantly to make sure that I was doing what was best for me. 

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

There are so many helpful resources on campus, and I have used many of them to help me throughout my college journey.  For academics and connections, I have primarily focused on help through the FGEN community and my teachers.  While professors can be scary to talk to, they are an amazing resource for learning and want to help any of their students that they can.  All you have to do is ask!  The FGEN community, and SARC (the Shepard Academic Resource Center) are also devoted to helping students with any major, class, or college-stress related issues and enjoy helping students to realize their full potential.  These resources have helped me to work with this community, and continually help me to see so many other amazing students who drive me to push myself even further.  I have also gotten lots of emotional counseling from both pastoral residents and the health center.  Both of these resources devote time to students to help them through any emotional stress or dilemma they are going through, and actively try to help students change their routines to help their overall happiness grow.  These are a few of the examples to show the different kinds of resources we have on campus, all devoted to helping you succeed during your time at UP.


UP is a wonderful place for learning and growth.  While it has many obstacles for you to overcome, and may feel overwhelming at times, there are two things I don't want you to forget.  One is that UP is your home, and you will always have a place here among your peers.  You have all the skills it takes to thrive in both college and your life ahead of you.  The second thing is to challenge yourself, and be okay with going out of your comfort zone.  In life, it is when we leave our comfort zones and push ourselves to do more that we realize all of the things that we can achieve in this life.

If you need any help, don't forget to ask.  We are right there beside you to help you become the best version of yourself that you want to be.

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