Finding your confidence in a new world

A journalism student speaks to the University's longest-serving dean about their shared experience as first-generation college students.

Bella Moyers-Chavez, '26 | April 24, 2024


The concept of being a first-generation college student is significant in today's educational landscape. First-generation students are the first in their families to pursue a college education, often navigating unfamiliar terrain with determination and resilience. Their journey symbolizes not only personal ambition but also the fulfillment of familial aspirations and the breaking of longstanding cycles of limited opportunity.  

My name is Isabellia Moyers-Chavez, and I'm proud to be a first-generation student studying journalism strategic communication at Ohio University. Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Scott Titsworth, the dean of the Scripps College of Communication, for a candid conversation about our shared experience as first-generation scholars. As we explored what it means to navigate college without the guidance of family precedent, we uncovered insights that resonate across different generations, shedding light on the challenges and successes inherent in this unique journey. 

Dean Titsworth and I find common ground as we discuss our experiences navigating the challenges of being first-generation students. Together, we explore the questions and anxieties that colored our college admission journey, reflecting on the excitement that accompanied each step of the process.

You build experiences that build your confidence. It’s not something you have or don't have, it's a growth mindset.

Dean Scott Titsworth

Diving in

As a first-generation college student, every step of my journey feels like a significant milestone in my life. From navigating the intricacies of applications and financial aid forms to the moment I set foot on campus, the experience has been both exhilarating and daunting. Despite the initial challenges, I've been fortunate to find a supportive network that has eased my transition into college life. The guidance of advisors and the camaraderie of student clubs have provided me with invaluable resources and a sense of belonging. This journey is not just about personal achievement, it’s about pushing boundaries and redefining the path to achieve success in both academic and professional endeavors.

Dean Scott Titsworth stands back-to-back with sophomore Bella Moyers-Chavez

Having support systems like advisors, mentors and student clubs is not just about getting through college; it's about setting ourselves up for success in our careers and beyond. These individuals and groups can provide invaluable guidance, networking opportunities and encouragement that can propel us forward. As first-generation students, it's especially important to stay motivated because we're often paving the way for our families and future generations. By staying focused on our goals and pushing through challenges, we're not just achieving personal success, we're breaking down barriers and creating new paths for others to follow. Keeping ourselves motivated isn't just about reaching the finish line; it's about realizing our potential and inspiring those who come after us to do the same.

Building connections

I joined Scripps Public Relations Student Society of America, enabling me to attend the 2023 Public Relations Society of America/Public Relations Student Society of America ICON Conference. Being active in such groups can shape your career path and drive you towards success.

Throughout my experiences in college, I've come to realize the value of building relationships with peers and mentors in navigating my academic journey. I've found that surrounding myself with a supportive community is pivotal. Whether it's forming study groups for challenging exams or engaging in campus organizations, connecting with like-minded individuals has proven to be both enriching and essential. Having mentors, whether they are faculty members or peers, has provided invaluable guidance and encouragement, helping me maintain my focus and increase my motivation for the field. Cultivating these relationships has become a cornerstone of my college experience, offering the support and inspiration necessary to succeed throughout my college career.

Dean Titsworth and I discuss the vital role of confidence in career advancement, emphasizing its development as a skill through adaptation and building upon existing abilities. This insight serves as a crucial reminder for our career progression.

Reaching a new confidence

As I mentioned in my conversation with Dean Titsworth, my experience at a public relations industry conference in Nashville profoundly impacted my perspective on my career trajectory. 

It showed me that careers in the field of public relations are not just attainable but also rich with opportunities for growth and impact. Meeting professionals in the industry, hearing their stories, and learning from their experiences illuminated the path ahead and instilled in me a sense of confidence that I too can thrive in this field. The journey of a first-generation college student can be filled with challenges, uncertainties and moments of self-doubt. Through those moments, we respond with resilience, pride and determination toward our future endeavors. Reflecting on my experience as a first-generation student, I've come to realize that every challenge I've faced has only strengthened my resolve and determination. With the support of advisors, mentors and student organizations, we can navigate through obstacles and chart a path towards success. As we continue this journey, it's crucial to remember the importance of perseverance, resilience and the power of community in achieving our goals. By staying motivated and focused on our goals, we can pave the way of our futures while encouraging those around us to strive for greatness.