First Generation Students Show Resilience on Path to Graduation

Hard work in high school and a Brooke J. Lenfest scholarship helped Morgan-White earn a place at Penn State and be able to afford it. But the road to graduation was not easy, he said. Because he started at Penn State in 2016, the COVID-19 pandemic began as he entered the latter stages of college.

Morgan-White graduated in August 2021 with the support of her mother and the Penn State Support Services Network.

“Don’t take your Penn State resources for granted,” he said. “If you have problems that you feel you can’t handle, seek out the resources that are given to you. Communicate with teachers, go to tutoring.

He also said working for the student blog and Onward State media helped him understand his passions: entertainment and writing music. He said a dream job would be writing for Rolling Stone, the magazine that has helped launch the careers of some of the best entertainment, music and pop culture writers of the past 50 years.

Although his college career was not easy and there were many challenges to overcome, Morgan-White said it was important for him to finish and graduate.

“As a first-generation student, you have a lot to learn and look forward to.”

Mahima Kania

Mahima Kania, from Gujarat, India, is not just a first-generation graduate. She became the first female engineer in her extended family and the first to earn a bachelor’s degree from a foreign university when she graduated from Penn State with a major in mechanical engineering in 2021.

Kania is now an operations engineer and project manager at Comcast in Atlanta, a position she got after just six months with the company.

As an international student at Penn State, Kania said she had to learn a lot on her own to be successful.

“It was a challenge,” she said. She spent a lot of time on the application and visa processes and navigating Penn State as a first-generation college student.

Kania took what she learned and was determined to help others on their journey. She became involved with the Penn State International Student Council and later served as the organization’s public relations and marketing director and later vice president. Kania explained that international students face additional barriers to opportunities such as internships in the United States due to the visa process.

“Helping these students feel more comfortable and have a welcoming experience was very important to me,” she said of her work on the board.

Kania participated in several internships during her time at Penn State. Perhaps the most significant was as an intern operations engineer in Atlanta, which led to her currently working full-time as a project manager for a sustainability initiative.

His advice to other first-generation students is, “Keep pushing, keep driving yourself and others around you. It will look like a battle at first, but it will happen.

Sierra Snigier

Sierra Snigier thought she would start college at Penn State Altoona taking things easier than in high school, where she was heavily involved in clubs and other extracurricular activities. It didn’t last long.

Early in her freshman year, Snigier competed to become freshman president of the Student Government Association and remained involved in student government throughout her career at Penn State, eventually becoming vice president and president. .

This first act of commitment brought her into a world of networking, scholarships, internships and opportunities, she said.

“I think if I wasn’t so involved, I wouldn’t have gotten so many scholarships or been so noticed,” she said.

To make ends meet, Snigier worked at the campus gymnasium and as a residential assistant. Every summer she tried to intern in her hometown of Seaford, Delaware, working in different industries to get an idea of ​​what she wanted to do when she graduated. She also interned on the communications team at Penn State Altoona.

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