Sunday, November 10, 2019

First-Generation Student: Ethiopine Choping

With the end of the semester rolling around, graduation is so close- yet, so far away.  Being a first-generation student can make graduation seem so out of reach.  As an honors student, Sudanese refugee and civil engineer, Ethiopine Choping demonstrates the determination needed to overcome the challenges of being a first-generation student.  
Ethiopine Choping

Choping said, “[Being first-generation] makes everything really hard.  Only because you don’t have that person to ask who can give you immediate answers.  Being a first-generation student, you don’t have that much college guidance.  I come from a family of immigrants so I’m the first person the finish high school, go to college, so there isn’t anybody in my family that can give me guidance on how to approach college or how to get scholarships, things like that,” said Choping.
She said that she will be the first female in her family to finish high school, go into civil engineering and graduate college. 
“[Finishing college] is a lot of pressure to get it done, but it’s a journey where you have to pace yourself.  I’m really excited…. It all pays off, even though it’s crazy,” said Choping.

Being the first to do something can be really stressful without guidance, but Choping has used Vol State’s TRIO program to stay successful in school.

“I’m in the TRIO program, and the ladies there are just wonderful,” said Choping, “They’re like a home away from home.  They have all that college experience, so they can kind of guide me along the way.”

Outside of TRIO, Choping is one of the only civil engineering students she knows, and said she doesn’t have the same kind of support groups that other students have.

“It would still be nice to get that support, even though there’s not a super huge civil engineering group,” said Choping.

While the life of a first-generation student may seem a little lonely and challenging, it doesn’t have to be.  There are people and programs at Vol State that can help.

“Communicating with everyone just helps a lot,” said Choping, “If you think you have a ‘bad professor,’ communicating with them can normally change your mind.”

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.

-Gloria Cortes

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