Print

Print


In response to the ongoing discussion of 1st generation college students, I
happened to have lived the experience and by no means was it anything at
all what I would call "cultural suicide." However, I wouldn't call it a
glowing success either.

I do not misinterpret Martha Maxwell's comments as a misrepresentation of
the experience of 1st generation college students, I simply think we all
need to try our best to understand the variety of experiences people have
had when they were the first of their family to attend college and/or
complete a college degree (just as M. Maxwell suggests).

My mother was extremely supportive of my attending college and pursuing an
education wherever I saw best; however, my father always expressed a
disdain for "college boys" and the white collar, coat, and tie crowd he saw
them become. His first words to me when I told him I would be attending the
university was, "Who the hell you think is going to pay for it?!" I smugly
waved my scholarship award in his face (Oh to undo some of my past
actions!). When I lost my academic scholarship and nearly flunked out he
still refused to help pay tuition, but never reveled in my near disastrous
first years of college. (My performance was based as much on my penchant
for tequila as it was my poor preparation and orientation to college demands.)

Many, many years later as a graduate student in English studies, I was
given a poem by Seamus Haney (sp?) titled "Digging." In it he compares his
father's expertise at digging plots of peat with his expertise at writing.
It hit me like a wall of bricks. For years he and I discussed over beers
how it was that I left a background of farm, construction, oilfield to
pursue a PhD in English. I was finally able to put it to words; I take
pride in my skills as a writer, working with words, syntax, style, etc.
just like he took pride in his skills with romex, conduit, pipe benders,
sidecutters, etc. (To see my father's electrical work is just short of
viewing master works of art.)

At some later date, I'll share the more bizarre religious community's
questions about my college experience, as well as the b.s. I have
encountered as a redneck in the university.

Walt