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Essay Contest

Essay Winners

Essay winners are Angelica Berrios (3rd),

Excerpts from the Winning Essays

“When the chain is broken between molecules, energy is released and the molecules are free to engage in other reactions to form new products. There is power in broken cycles; it has even been proven by science. This is why I chose to be a first-generation student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. ”

Lanie Hughes – 1st Place; Winner of the $500 Scholarship

 “By being a first-generation college student, I grew up in a world where higher education wasn’t an expectation, but a privilege. For many, choosing to ignore those privileges is easier than losing them. Women like Sutematsu paved the way for Japanese women two-hundred years ago, but the fear of rejection still lingers. It’s a generational sentiment, but I’m going to break it.”

Annalee Harris – 2nd Place; Winner of the $100 MERC Gift Certificate

 “A year after my mom’s passing, I moved out, got a job, and completed my junior and senior year. I then graduated high school with honors. My entire life has been about unlikely odds. My family never went to college and only a few have even completed high school. I am a first-generation student.”

 Angelica Berrios – 3rd Place; Winner of the SWOSU Gift Bag

Excerpts from Participants

“Experiencing the process of taking an x-ray was mind boggling to me, and made me want to become a radiologist myself. With my dream job and future partially planned out, continuing my education with college and, later medical school, is crucial for me to achieve a goal I set for myself…”

Kaden Adkins

“Not attending college has never been an option for me. The reason for this is because my parents never really had the option given to them in the first place. ”

Colombia Castro

“Being a first-generation student is something I am proud of. My life has not been easy, but that’s okay. I am working hard to break past the expectations others have set for me and I have set for myself.”

William Emerson

“I have always been ambitious, but my parents have always driven me to do my best. I can confidently say that my parents are my main reason for being so determined to earn a degree and become not only a 1st generation college student, but also a 1st generation high school graduate.”

Taylor Ford

“I was ready to drop out after my second semester. I felt like I didn’t belong. My parents made it work without a degree, so why couldn’t I? I spoke with my dad, and that is when he laid his whole life out for me to show me how long and how difficult it was for him. He told me if he had just taken the time to finish college, he would have been okay. That’s when I knew I wanted to be first.”

Bailey Grant

“I want to help others and I want to support my family. So, as classes get tougher as I near the finish line, I motivate myself with the reminder that I will be the one to stop the cycle of poverty and support my loved ones. I will use my skills to see to it that I can help others and that my children never have to go without a roof over their heads as the generations before them have. ”

Latisha Holmstrom

“My parents built a business from nothing and that is motivating me to finish. I want my parents to be proud of what I’m doing with my life.”

Pazlie Jones

“I am a first-generation college student. I am older than the average student. I am a mother of 3, a wife to a nurse, and a Jill of all trades master of none.”

Jeannette Lovelace


“It is my goal to help others that have fought mental illness like I have. Life itself has taught me that no matter what happens I can fight through it and I hope to teach others the same. Knowing that I am the first generation in my family encourages me to keep going.”

Alexis Mills

“The day my parents dropped me off at Stewart Hall, I cried harder than I am willing to admit while my parents hugged me goodbye. I cried because I would miss them of course, but I also cried because as a first-generation college student, I didn’t want to let them down.”

Ravin Norbury

“She was only 8 years old when her education opportunities were taken away from her. My mom's story has always been the foundation of inspiring me to become the first generation of my family to attend college.”

Leticia Ortiz

“Hard Work, Integrity and Grit is what I believe in most. I believe that those three things are the backbone to everything truly great.”

John Posey

“I remembered something my mother always used to tell me, "The Power of Life and Death is your Tongue” (King James Version Proverbs 18:21) which means, your words can either speak life or your words can speak death, your words can either build yourself up or they can tear you down.”

Symphony Zewalk-Walton