Mizzou is making an effort to recognize its students who are the first in their family to go to college with the hashtag #CelebrateFirstGen.
Izabel Hanson is a junior Health Science student (with an emphasis in Clinical Laboratory Science) and SHP Student Ambassador from Columbia, Mo.
Hanson is also the first in her family to go to college. We talked to her about what her college experience has been like so far.
What are you studying and what originally made you interested in that? What are your eventual goals and aspirations career-wise?
I’m really into the diagnostic part of medicine. How do medical professionals find diseases and what’s the diagnosing process? I’m interested in healthcare, but not necessarily interested in working with individual patients. Eventually I want to get my Master of Public Health Degree, working at the CDC or Missouri State Public Health Laboratory. I’m more interested in the behind-the-scenes of what affects populations.
How does it feel to be a first generation college student? Did your family encourage you to attend a 4-year university? Were they surprised when you wanted to?
It was kind of scary at first, because my parents don’t know what’s going on; my grandparents don’t know what’s going on. We had more questions than answers at first, which was a little nerve-wracking. We were all learning together the differences between a two-year degree and a four-year degree, etc.
My parents have always been supportive of me. They wanted me to go and have a career I could rely on, and they knew I’d be successful at whatever I put my mind to, they just don’t always understand exactly what it is I’m doing all the time.
Do you feel like there are adequate resources on campus to help out first-generation students?
In my experience at SHP, yes. From day one at SHP, I’ve had help from my academic advisor, career services and student services. I’ve been able to easily make appointments, and they’ve helped me figure out how to do all of this, so I’m not stressed out about what I can do with this degree. I know what I can do with it. I know where I’m going.
What advice would you give to other high schoolers who are considering going to college who might be the first in their family to do so?
I would say that it’s ok to not know right now what you want to do. You have time in the first two years while you’re getting some core classes done. Use that time to explore your options. Also, use the resources available. All these entities on campus that are designed to help you are included in your tuition, and they will help you if you’re just willing to ask.