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In 2017, two organizations joined forces to launch what has now become an annual event: the First-Generation College Celebration. The Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-generation Student Success created the annual commemoration to “celebrate the success of first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on (our) campus in any and every way possible.”
For our commemoration of first-generation college student day, WashU Olin introduces you to two members of our community: Omoluyi Adesanya, MPH/MBA ’20, and David Leon, BSBA ’20. Both speak of overcoming obstacles and their desire to capitalize on the sacrifices their families have made.
What does it mean to you to be the first in your family to go to college?
Adesanya: To me, being a part of the first generation in my family to go to college (after my elder brother) means overcoming the obstacles and challenges that have penetrated my family for generations.
Leon: Being the first in my family to go to college means making sure all the sacrifices my parents and family made to get me here don’t go to waste.
Adesanya: My mother’s family German heritage and immigrated to the USA from Germany. In the USA, they live in rural America as generational farmers in southern Illinois. At the age of 23, my father immigrated to the USA from Nigeria in pursuit of a more promising future filled with opportunity. My father was not familiar of the pathways of higher education in the US. My paternal grandmother, whom I am named after, was an illiterate, she never had the opportunity to attend school due to the fact that in Nigeria females did not have the right to obtain an education during her era.
Leon: I want to be an example for all the students who come after me, especially my siblings. It means paving a path and continuing to strive …