I am Ryan Felix and I am a first-generation student. I attended Oberlin College, a small liberal arts school in Ohio. While my parents supported my decision to go to college, they couldn’t provide any guidance on how to be successful or how to navigate the system once there, as neither had attended college themselves. Luckily, I was one of those rare students who enjoyed chemistry in high school, so I had the idea that I wanted it to be my major going in and that set me on my path to where I am now.
Upon getting to college it was intimidating to talk to other people and find out their parents were doctors, lawyers, professors, scientists, and other prestigious-sounding occupations while one of my parents had never even finished high school. This environment, in addition to the much more academically challenging nature of college versus high school, led to me having many doubts about whether I deserved to be there and whether I was smart enough to succeed. Fortunately, I found a good group of friends and continued putting my full effort into my classes.
As I went on to graduate school and continued to grow as a person and become more reflective, I came to take pride in my first-generation status. I had done something my parents never had and I realize now what an amazing accomplishment that is. As a professor, my personal experiences influence my teaching style and philosophy. I remember what it was like to have those doubts in myself and I strive to support my students through whatever situations and difficulties they are facing.