Friday, August 2, 2013

Stumbling into Student Affairs- Ashley McCall

Family means everything to me; it is the unbreakable ties that you can always count on as blood is thicker than water as my dad used to say. Growing up as the oldest of 4 children, I knew I had to set a good example and be a good role model for my younger brothers. I became the designated babysitter when I was 12 and ever since then I knew that I loved taking care of and helping other people.

I knew one day I would grow up and have my own family that I would be responsible for providing for.  To me becoming a grown up included going to college and getting a degree to get a good job that I would be happy with. College wasn’t something either of my parents was familiar with as they never went so I knew that I would have to navigate applying to college on my own. However I didn’t anticipate taking on the financial burden as well but one night my mother burst into tears when I asked  her how much money they had saved for me to go to college and I knew that I was going to have  to find a way to afford college. It was at this moment that I understood the difficulties of being a First Generation College student.

Texas State University was the destination of my choice as they offered me a scholarship on top of financial aid assistance. However I knew 4 years of living expenses, textbooks, and food was going to add up quickly. During my freshman year I became intrigued by the idea of being a Resident Assistant as it covered room and board along with a monthly stipend. I applied and was hired to be a Resident Assistant thinking it was a smart way to alleviate costs, however little did I know what the job would lead me to.

During my three years as a Resident Assistant I fell in love with making connections with students, planning programs and events for residents of the building, and the craziness that was RA Training and Freshmen Move In. I didn’t want it all to end when I graduated.  That is when I found about the field of Student Affairs from my supervisor. I was baffled that I could get a job doing what I loved which was working with and helping college students. Even better yet I was happy to find that Texas State had a master’s program in Student Affairs. My next destination was obvious: apply and get accepted to the program at Texas State.

Recently I have just graduated from the Student Affairs program at Texas State and I am amazed at how much I learned from the coursework, my professors, and my cohort. As I reflect on the two years in the program I realize that a salient part of my identity is being a first gen student as that is what drives my passion to be in this field. I know how scary it was to come to college not knowing what to expect and feeling pressure to succeed and prove that I could do anything. I want to be a resource for students like me and help make the scary unknown transition to college a little easier.

I am excited to obtain my first post-graduate position in the field and start to make a difference in student’s lives. I couldn’t be happier that my status as a first generation student led me here otherwise I am not sure where I would be.