I began my 24th year in higher education at Austin College in July 2020 as the Director of Student Success and Transitions. I started my career in education working as an Admissions Counselor and then created what is now called the Diversity and Inclusion Office at a private liberal arts college in Nebraska. This position, coupled with my personal life experiences, sparked my lifelong interest in and commitment to higher education. I transitioned into a diversity and inclusion role at an ABA law school in San Diego, CA, and was eventually promoted to Assistant Dean for Admissions. In 2015, I moved to Texas and after a short break, I sought out professional experiences that would allow me to help support college students on their academic journey towards their undergraduate degrees and beyond. This role is important to me because I was a student who started college without much vision and with little focus, but with a strong desire to be in college. I traveled a rough road to get to my undergraduate degree, and I made it. I am honored to be in a position to support Austin College students who are on similar paths.
I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. I currently live in McKinney with my partner, Charles, and our pups Nico and Mylo. I enjoy walking, traveling, singing (In CA I sang with a band that performed Cumbia, Salsa, and R&B/Soul music), and spending time with my family and friends. I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and, I volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
What motivated you to attend college?
I was motivated to attend college because of my grandfather and my parents. They stressed the importance of education and how important it was to take advantage of opportunities they did not have. I always knew that I would go to college, but my motivation was for them more than for me. My first year of college was rough. I did not do well. I had to learn that I needed to find my internal motivation and own my college experience. I began to explore why college was important to me and how I would use my degree in the future, and then I began to take charge of my education.
How did your early mentors help guide you to college?
My most impactful mentor was my third-grade teacher. She was the first woman of color I knew who had a college and an advanced degree and was the first African-American teacher I had. She pushed me to face and overcome my challenges. She also supported me throughout all of my education, cheering me on, encouraging me when I was down, and believing in me when I did not believe in myself.
What were your fears about going to college?
My mother went to college for a short period but was forced to withdraw. My brother also went, and he also eventually had to withdraw. I put pressure on myself to be successful and to “make it” when I started college. I worried about it so much that I permitted myself to give up if things did not work out. I also worried about my and my family’s ability to afford my education.
What advice do you have for current first-generation students?
I have three pieces of advice/points to share: 1. Asking for help does not make you less worthy or incapable of meeting the challenges of college. We all need help on our journey at some point. 2. Do not be afraid to cultivate additional opportunities for support on campus. There are so many people here who are ready and willing to help. 3. Surround yourself with people who “see” you, who believe in you, and who motivate you.
What helped you persist in difficult times?
It helped me to set smaller goals when my larger goals and tasks felt impossible. I constructed my smaller goals in a way that led me to my ultimate goal. I also had to learn to ask for help. It was difficult for me initially because I was battling this idea that I did not belong (imposter syndrome) and that college was not for me and that asking for help somehow meant that I did not measure up. Eventually, I realized that I did not have to know it all or be right all of the time to be successful. I just needed to be willing to learn from my mistakes and to ask for help.
What does being a first-generation student mean to you? I know that my persistence in and completion of college is the realization of the dreams that my parents, grandparents, and ancestors had for me. So, being a first-generation student brings me a great sense of pride and joy. I stand on their shoulders and I realize that I am creating a foundation for others to stand upon mine.