"Because representation matters, we the first-generation faculty and staff of UNT feel it's important that our students can see themselves in our stories so we can help them along as they create theirs." -Desiree

Read below to hear inspiring advice and stories from our faculty and staff at UNT who were first-generation college students!

Sarah Evans, Ph.D. 

Assistant Professor
Department of Information Science 
College of Information

What advice do you have for other first-generation students?

"Being first-gen comes with a lot of pressure because your family thinks you can do anything since you were accepted to college. So when you stumble and struggle, which you will, it can feel like you are just not as good as they think you are and that you will disappoint them. But struggling is how we grow, so don't be afraid of it. Know that there are people and services in place to help you. You can ask for help! And you can achieve your degree!" 

Candi Harris, MPA

Senior Student Success Coordinator
Strategic Retention Initiatives

What motivated you as a first-generation student?

"There did not seem to be another choice- I knew I wanted some different things in my life and that gaining that college degree would allow me to experience those things. Stability for example has been a byproduct of my completing college." 

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John Quintanilla, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
University Distinguished Teaching Professor 
Department of Mathematics
College of Science 

What advice do you have for other first-generation students?

"Never be afraid to ask questions. There are a whole lot of knowledgeable people at UNT who are committed to your success and can answer just about any question that you might have." 

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Jessa McKinnis, M. Ed. 

Assistant Director
Residence Life and Housing

What motivated you as a first-generation student?

"When I was younger, I was encouraged by my mother to continue in school. She sacrificed so much for me to be successful. There was not a question of "do you want to go to college?" It was always, "Which college are you going to?" I saw her struggle working multiple jobs to barely make it by and I did not want that for myself."