Wednesday, November 6, 2019

First-Generation Student: LaBryian Scharklett

Older siblings are normally the first to do things in a family with children, and they can set the standard for their younger siblings.  As a first-generation student and the oldest of 10 children, civil engineering major LaBryian Scharklett is setting a collegiate example for his family.

While his dad has no college experience, his mom actually has some.  She briefly went to college after he was born, but was later convinced her to drop out and focus on taking care of her child.

LaBryian Scharklett
“From seeing [my parents] lives, and how not going to school turned out for them, it gives me the drive to want to go to school and see what it’s like on the other side,” said Scharklett.

He says since neither of his parents went to college, they don’t always understand or appreciate the work it takes to succeed in school.

“When I tell my parents- either one- things I accomplish in college, they’re not very appreciative or don’t reward me like how I would expect they should.  No, ‘I’m proud of you,’ or things like that because they don’t know what it is that I say.  A student hearing that they’re doing well can really help, change or influence them to do better in school,” said Scharklett.

As pessimistic as it may seem, that’s just the reality for some first-generation students.  Having parents that went to college is an advantage.

“Kids whose parents went to college have role models, and they already have a road paved to where they need to go, but we have to pave our own road….  Some students just have that perk of having parents who already know what college is like,” said Scharklett.

Although his parents may not be able to guide him, the TRIO program at Vol State has supported him through school.

“Not having all that stuff for some reason just makes me want to try harder.  It’s almost as if I can’t fail.  I can’t afford to fail college.  Some students have wealthy parents and inherit things, but I have nothing.  If I fail this, there’s nothing else I can go to,” said Scharklett.

Scharklett is now mentoring at TRIO, and says he is looking forward to graduation and planning to attend Tennessee Tech University. 

“[TRIO] has treated me very, very well.  I don’t think I would be where I am without them  They’ve helped with registration, planning classes, support, work study, all of that stuff,” said Scharklett.

Any first-generation students interested in college support should check out Vol State’s TRIO program for more information about the success services they offer. 

To show appreciation for first-generation college students, come to the First-Generation Vol State Celebration events planned throughout the week.

-Gloria Cortes

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