DaMika Woodard will be serving as the POL for the College of Art and Design. She is a Senior from DeRidder, Louisiana. She is majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy. She is involved in LSU Ambassadors, STRIPES, and Association of Pre-Physical Therapy Students. Her favorite spot on campus is Middleton Library.
Being a first generation student is a great accomplishment that comes with a lot of pride, and a lot of pressure. I was proud to be the first person in my family to go to a four year university, but I also felt pressured to succeed. Statistically, the odds were not in my favor. It was reported that first generation students are the least likely to graduate from four year universities; I did not want that to be my story. Growing up, I watched my mom bounce from job to job to provide for my siblings and I. My mother always told me things such as: “nothing is ever going to be given to you, you have to work for it. The world is yours, you just have to go and get it!” She constantly stressed the importance of education to us and made sure that we excelled academically. Thanks to her consistency, I graduated from DeRidder High School in 2013 in the top 15 percent of my class, and didn’t stop there! In the Fall of 2013, I began my journey as an LSU Tiger, which was a bittersweet transition for my mother and I. We were excited for this new chapter of my life, but also nervous; this was not only my first taste of college, but hers as well.
My first semester was challenging; not only academically, but in my personal life as well. I had trouble networking with others and keeping my parents up to date on information and events. In addition to those problems, I did not know how to properly study, manage my time, or how to handle my own finances. While trying to juggle it all, I came to the realization that I needed extra help; I could not do this alone. Thankfully, LSU has a service called Student Support Services. At the SSS, their mission is to work directly with first generation students from their freshman orientation to their graduation.
They have services that teach the students about money management,studying styles, as well as time management. They also offer weekly tutoring sessions and peer mentors, who are first generation students, too. This made things easier because I was surrounded by people who understood me and could give me the extra help that I knew I needed. There are many times that I felt overwhelmed, but my on-campus support system encouraged me to keep going. Now, I am set to graduate in December of 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology. In the words of my mother, “The world is yours, you just have to go and get it.”