Pandemic Denies First Generation Graduates Their Special Moment – WUFT News – Get a quote in 2 minutes

Edward Green lost $ 300 on a seed triplet in January. All three – ranging from a gray plaid to a royal blue and navy blue pinstripe – were a three course fashion statement that was to be paired with a custom white and blue stole.
Green, a 23-year-old public relations major, will be the first person in his family to graduate with a degree. Recognize the odds against him of being a black man without a father figure.
"Basically, I should be imprisoned or dead," said Green.
For him, the beginning is a three-seeded opportunity.
In the midst of a global pandemic, universities across the nation have postponed the commencement ceremonies of senior graduate students, or the "COVID-19 Class". UF's early spring for undergraduate students has been rescheduled for the weekend from July 31st to August 2nd. Now, these dates could be undefined after the university announced that all summer terms will move online.
Getting started is important to everyone, but it generally means something very different for first-generation students, said Erica Aguiar, assistant director of the UF's Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program and success of first-generation students.
Although UF's first generation services allow students to identify themselves as first generation, these students typically come from families where none of the parents have graduated, Aguiar said. About 20 percent of UF students fall into this category.
Aguiar, a former first generation student of the same UF, notes general feelings of impostor syndrome, lack of guidance and sacrifice among these students. But he also sees strength and resilience as a result.
Some students are familiar with the concept of the glass ceiling, Aguiar said. For first generation students, that ceiling is made of concrete.
They haven't seen what's on the elusive "other side". There is only a tiny window of light guiding them as they hit it.
These students are currently fighting against the clouds of uncertainty looming over their small windows of light.
Green's mother, Kristle Mounds, cried when she heard that the start had been reprogrammed.
She hasn't looked forward to the event for the past two years, but she and the rest of Green's family have understood that safety precautions were a priority in making the decision to postpone.
Mounds, a cosmetologist since he was 16, raised Green and his three younger brothers as a single mother.
"My mom just wanted to do what she loved," said Green. "That was the hair."
With an extroverted spirit and an entrepreneur's mind, Mounds grew up with the mentality that she would open her own salon that would sell her products. He did not feel the need to go to college to achieve this.
Mounds encouraged Green to apply to the UF even though he had been intimidated by the UF admission statistics. It also hasn't seen enough black representation in higher education settings.
"What inspired me was that I wanted to prove that the world was wrong …" said Green. "That black people go to college."
Green's family is African American, but they aren't exactly sure which part of Africa their ancestors came from, he said. The family documents were burned when his descendants were sent across the seas to work as slaves.
He did his mission not only to go to college, but to go to a good college and graduate.
In high school, Green's family frequently moved between Florida and South Carolina and, during his senior year, had attended five different high schools. However, he got straight as if to prove to his younger brothers that it was possible.
Green recalls the college tax application and financial aid processes. He applied to the UF beyond the deadline because it had been moved from December to November of that year.
He later learned from the Admissions Office that some 8000 late applications were sent to UF in addition to his. Of these 8000 late candidates, he was one of only two admitted.
Green turned the phone when he received the e-mail from UF regarding his admission status. Her heart went down and when she turned the phone back on to read the message, her mouth went down too.
He and Mounds celebrated together, knowing that Green's hard work was worth it.
Green was soon a freshman who lived in Beaty Towers. His GPA dropped to 1.8 in his first half as a financial major.
It was like a time to come to Jesus, Green said, but he didn't want to contact his family for support. He felt like he was making them ashamed by wasting time and money.
"I didn't want them to say," See, I knew you weren't ready. ""
Green has worked harder, changed his specialization in public relations and has been involved on campus. In his senior year, his stash of involvement included the Embassy of the Innovation Academy, the Black Student Union's innovation leadership program, the student government, and affiliation with a brotherhood.
Green also did paid work at the UF Office for Student Financial Affairs and as an assistant leasing marketing agent in an apartment off campus.
Through what he endured in college, he couldn't wait to get started. When the time came, he sent 175 invitations to friends and family to celebrate.
Now, her grandmother's plans to decorate her home for the celebration must wait together in the beginning.
Green's grandmother is still excited about the new date, but Green no longer sees the point. The momentum has been lost.
But he will likely continue to attend the ceremony – in an assortment of clothes – to honor his friends and family.
"For me, it's like a" thank you "to them," said Green.
Victoria Gingras may not have expected three suits, but her square graduation hat is naked.
Gingras would have decorated it with the phrase "On my new dream" from the Tangled movie or "I made it for my cats". Her grandparents would have flown in from Connecticut to see her turn her tassel.
Victoria Gingras, the center and her family are finding other ways to honor her achievements. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Gingras)
Now, the 21 year old senior Englishwoman does not know if she will participate in the beginning if she has been postponed until the autumn semester.
He said it would be strange to attend the ceremony at that point. She is currently working on a teaching certificate that would allow her to become a high school teacher at that point.
Gingras, originally from Connecticut, moved to Ocala at 9. Her colleagues showed off trendy clothes and access to laptops and some school supplies that she didn't do. He knew he wanted to grow up to live more comfortably than his parents.
The only way to do it, he thought, was to go to college.
When it was time to decide what she wanted to pursue after graduation, Gringas' love for English and her desire to teach it guided her. There is no purpose in life if you don't help others, he says.
In fourth grade, her imaginative essay on a Jumanji-style game earned her a perfect score on the evaluation of FCAT's writing, which her mother still retains. In high school, Gingras's algebra professor, Mrs. Coast, loosened her hateful grip on mathematics.
Inspired by Mrs. Coast and her passion for English, Gingras began to think she could teach for the rest of her life.
None of Gingras' parents had graduated, but his mother started taking online courses at Saint Leo University in 2013 to improve his position as an insurance adjuster. Gingras began his first year at Central Florida university while his mother finished her online lessons.
Although his mother recently graduated, the drastic transition to college was terrifying for Gingras. Like many first generation students, he had questions about college life that no one in his small circle could answer.
He felt anxious about the pressure to succeed, and struggled to build a new support system for the UCF.
"I have to finish this because nobody else has even tried to do it," said Gringas.
Gingras stayed at UCF for a year before moving to UF – his dream school. He feared refusing UF in high school and never applied. But a couple of years later, she became a UF student.
When it first arrived in Gainesville, the city's transit system seemed daunting to Gingras. But he learned how to navigate the UF flight burst. Now she misses the bus trip for her teenage literature and creative nonfiction lessons – two of her favorites.
For Gingras, the beginning would have celebrated what was not easy.
"We do all this just to get a little recognition," he said.
But his experiences as a first generation student are honored in other ways. After guiding her younger sister through college questions, Gingras' 20-year-old sister is now enrolled in the UCF program and then enters the medical field.
Her 17-year-old brother needed a little push to start taking school seriously. He didn't understand the urgency of that, said Gingras. Not even when he was in high school.
She enrolled in three schools at the last minute and didn't explore other options because she was afraid. He didn't have the kind of college driving he now offers to his younger brother. He's starting to take school seriously.
"I'd like to think I've helped a little," said Gingras.
The future of the beginning remains unclear, but first generation students like Gingras and Green will find other ways to celebrate something that has remained unscathed since COVID-19: a dilapidated concrete ceiling.