A Gate of Opportunity

John Catton, Campus Carrier Features Editor

Leo Narrison, Campus Carrier Asst. Features Editor

Marcus began dreaming for his future at a young age.

Marcus Ghee, Senior

“A lot of the challenges I have had in the beginning as a first generation college student comes from that a lot parents get to talk about their college experiences with their kids. They can say, ‘I went through this and I did that.’ Often times first generation students don’t get those opportunities. Also, parents sometimes don’t get the challenges that come from combining school, work and social life. For example, if I call my parents about money, they might be like, ‘just manage your money better, it going to be okay, because they don’t understand the finical burden of college combined with academics and work. As a result, I had to build a unique support network of friends, professors and staff. They really made my dream possible. They always were open, they were always willing to help. The community at Berry is incredible. You can’t even walk to library without saying hey to five people. Everybody sees each other as community members.”


Kristian (middle) and her family show off their Berry spirit.

Kristian Willingham, Senior

“It is definitely an amazing feeling to be the first. Where I am from, even though I was never pressured to go to college, but it was always an expectation to go to college. There never was a question my parents wanted to make good grades and go to college. I sometimes felt sorry for my parents because I feel that in the beginning, my parents might have felt embarrassed and disconnected because they never experienced what I was going through. But they support me every way they can. They saw that I wanted to pursue something more and they wanted to see me see it through, even though. I would not only be the first to go to college but also to leave my county. Berry is a great place to come to if your someone like me because it is literally a home away from home for me. It is my hope that I will get to go to college so that my children will be able to have the opportunity to follow their dreams.”


Jared (left) pictured with his family.

Jared Marcum, Senior

“It feels pretty weird being the first in my family to go to college, because I thought that most everyone had been to college by now. But it is a great privilege to be the first but it was pretty hard. Freshman year was stressful because I felt that I had to do the Marcum family name good, but after a few tests I realized it’s just school. That I just had to do the best I could. It was really hard too because my parents couldn’t relate to what I was doing. It’s not like they don’t have experience, just not applicable experience to what I was going through. They wanted to see me to be able to make big dreams big and accomplish them. Coming to Berry as a first generation student is so much better than other places because everyone knows your name even if they have just met you once.”


Jessica (middle right) is all smiles with her siblings and parents at her side.

Jessica Cotter, Senior

“It is really exciting and special to be the first because I get to experience everything about college for the first time. I have nothing to go off of, but that’s fulfilling because I get to make what I want out it. It is a challenge because I had no experience to go off of, but my family is very is very supportive; I talk to my Mom about it every day. They always want to see me succeed. It seems that with a degree, I can now pursue the career I want and now I can help my brother and sister with their education. I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else but Berry. Everyone from your friends to your professors are always really supportive.”


Aaron (middle left) standing with his grandparents and Congressman David Scott when he received a nomination to West Point.

Aaron Morrison, Junior

“My parents dropped school for drugs and alcohol. I had to really get past that. It is really easy to look back at what my family has done and get dragged into what they did. But I looked past that for something better and overcame that. It could have been very easy to think to that college is not important because my parents never really valued it. My teachers in school and my grandparents were the ones who got me through by always telling me ‘this too will pass, and ‘if you can take it, you can make it.’ Berry really helped me because of this community, where you might not know them by name but they are always wiling to support me as a family even if at back home I don’t have support. It really encourages me to keep up with school.”

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