I should not be here. I am a double first-generation student—a first-generation college graduate and a first-generation high school graduate. Neither of my parents graduated from high school or college, though they were highly self-educated—my mother was a voracious reader, and my father traveled the world courtesy of the US Army and owned several successful small businesses.
Having so little formal education themselves, my parents had very little in the way of academic advice to offer me. But they gave me something much more important—they believed in me. I never remember a time when they did not expect that I would attend college. Because of their belief and support, and help from many others along the way, I was able to find my way into and succeed in higher education.
My journey to college and later to graduate school and a career in higher education has taught me the power of simple things—a kind word, an expression of encouragement, a little advice (if asked for), can make a world of difference to a struggling student. These things made a world of difference to me, and as a result my life and the lives of my family have been made immeasurably better by the power of education.