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Who was the First in your Family?

Posted on Jul 16, 2013 by in Core Values, Life Lessons | 0 comments

I have a passion for education and this blog represents both my continued education and my desire to share what I’ve learned.  Multiple times I have discussed how the “information economy” has moved us beyond “muscle” and into “brain” oriented systems and structures.  An education is vital to unlocking opportunity.  I actually shared recently numbers on the correlation between educational level and employment rates.  If you have been watching the news you know that Nelson Mandela has been in the hospital.  He has a lung infection.


President Mandela is a fascinating person.  He is 94 years old, a Nobel Prize winner, and the first black president of South Africa.  This is how people introduce him now – I find it interesting that they leave out – was “held” in prison for 27 years for fighting against “apartheid”.  The other interesting bit of information that is left out of his typical biography – he was the first person in his family to attend and graduate from college (neither one of his parents could read).  He studied at Fort Hare University and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law.  After reading several stories about him and some of his own personal writings it become clear to me that his “formal education” is extremely important to him.

Factoid: during his time in college: he loved to box! (love it).

My reading found this very good article:

“First-generation college students not only bring their own dreams and goals to campus, but also those of the parents, grandparents and other family members who helped them get there.”

– Often times just knowing where to start and how to apply is difficult for “First in the Family”

Understanding the Federal Financial Aid System is important for “First in the Family”

– Many “First in the Family” are not aware of Scholarships that are available

If you didn’t know this about me – I was the “First in my Family”.  I understand the look in my parents eyes when they simply didn’t know how to help me.  I understand that feeling of showing up on campus and not knowing what a dorm was.  I fully understand the financial hardships that are created.  Most importantly I am grateful that we have a system that allowed me to receive scholarships, financial aid, and yes loans (I borrowed and paid back) that I viewed as an investment in my future.

We need more conversations about the importance of education.  We need more information available for “First in the Family” to research and understand that through a combination of scholarships, financial aid, loans, and working I do believe that anyone that wants to pursue a formal degree can.  I have also blogged that the education system is changing, but I am not saying the importance of a formal education is changing.

Don’t read this as my attempt to compare myself to President Mandela, view it as, I am amazed at how many leaders are “First in the Family”.  Do you know who was the first in your family?  Go find them, tell them how cool you think they are.

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