College Going Tradition

Think about the places that you have never thought about going. It is a really odd concept to truly think through. Could I actually make a list of all of the places that I hadn't thought about going? Growing up I was one of the oldest cousins in my family. Of the twelve or so of us (lost track of the late cousins added from second marriages, etc.), only three of us successfully completed college (my younger sister was one of the others). During our family gatherings, we didn't have cousins or relatives coming back from college with new billboard t-shirts or fresh stories about campus life. It just wasn't part of the conversation. None of my mother's or father's siblings were college graduates and none of my grandparents ever experienced college. We talked about a lot of things (family, tradition, work), but never was there one story about the value of college. College was truly one of those places that could have easily ended up on that of places that I had never thought about going. This August will be the 20th anniversary of me stepping onto the campus at Drury College to begin my first semester of learning thus breaking the cycle in my family, and beginning a college going tradition. The road to college was littered with ignorance, and I have never properly thanked high school teachers, counselors, mentors, and family friends for helping to nudge me in the right direction. Many times, I have recognized my parents' sacrifice that allowed me to repel the weight of poverty that could have enveloped me on this road, but it is worth saying thank you to them again. I am still a first generation college kid in a lot of ways, not as polished, professional, and proper as some of my colleagues that I collaborate and learn with everyday, but this journey has given me something else, a deep sense of mission. In everything I do in education, my eye is on finding new avenues to create fresh college going traditions in families, knowing that supporting that first student in a family across the finish line sets off a wave of potential positive outcomes that ripples deep into our societal fabric.