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SCU First Gen Staff/Faculty Profiles

Kari Craighead
Office Manager, Modern Languages & Literatures
Where did you attend college?

Santa Clara University

What was your college experience like as a first-generation college student?

Overall, it was fantastic, I met lifelong friends and had some fun along the way! However, it was sometimes overwhelming having that feeling of being "on my own" for the first time. I was surrounded by people who were not first-gen, and I often felt like I had "missed" something and I should "just know how" to do certain things... but what i realized is that they didn't always know either, but they had their parent(s) to ask about next steps, or to remind them of getting things done on time. As the saying goes: I didn't know what I didn't know... or who or how to ask. Sometimes it felt a bit daunting, especially because I didn't have the same struggles in high school that I did in college... For example, I wasn't prepared for the change in workload and expectations in college level courses, I was very good student high school and assumed that my study skills would translate to college. Not so in all cases! So I had to pick up new study habits that fit college life. In my case, I came to SCU out of high school and ran into some struggles and ended up leaving after Junior year, it wasn't until I came back to work here as a staff member that I was able to finish the degree I had started years before.

What message do you have to share with current first-generation college students?

Ask questions...at 18, I was very shy and "didn't want to bother" anyone...so I would just try and figure things out on my own (didn't always work out). So, if you're not sure about something find a professor or staff member that you trust and ask them questions. Attend LEAD seminars which may give insight to what you may not have even have known to ask! (I wish this had existed when I was a student). Make an appointment with a Drahmann advisor. Remember that we all want to see you be successful and there are people who can help...just reach out!