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Dr. Sharon Jones

Dr. Jones

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

The toughest part was not really being able to "share" the experience with my parents or get help from them with various questions. I am sure that was hard for them as well. Related to that was the feeling of being very different from the students around me. The best part was that I knew my parents were very proud of me. Two things helped me succeed -- a very supportive administrator who "looked out" for the few of us in this situation in an informal but very needed way. The second was when I found a student club with many students who I had things in common with -- the National Society of Black Engineers.

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

I was very under prepared in math for the major I wanted to pursue. I assume this was due to my high school background and the type of college I attended. Overcoming it involved learning to work harder and to ask for help but it was difficult because for a while, I felt as if I did not belong there.

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

UP has lots of resources to help ... find them and use them. Faculty and staff want you to come see them and ask questions. We are here to help. Also, realize that you are not the only one here with your background. Finally, seek out job shadows in your career interest because you will realize what the "job" is like versus school and this will help motivate you to keep working hard.

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

Yes, an informal mentor who made suggestions about tutoring opportunities, how to craft my course schedule to be manageable, and to consider graduate school.

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

I had to learn to work really hard in my freshman year (as opposed to high school) and I think I carried these traits with me throughout college and into professional life. I also feel that I have quite a bit of empathy for students in similar situations because of that experience so I can mentor well.

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