Empower Our Next Leaders

When first-generation graduate thinks of UC, one word comes to mind: gratitude

Dianiesha JacksonAs a first-generation college student at the University of Cincinnati, Dianiesha “Dee” Jackson, A&S ’19, was wise enough to know that support would be crucial.

“I didn’t have a roadmap, necessarily,” she says.

What she had already experienced was loss and change. When her beloved grandmother and guardian died before her junior year of high school, Dee’s life “took a 180,” she recalls. She went to live with her aunt and uncle—with whom she is close—but it meant leaving her small community and high school behind.

“Looking back, it made me come of out of my comfort zone and be more outgoing, which then led to a better transition into college,” Dee shares. “It was easier for me to be able to put myself out there, make friends, network with people.”

That transition was also improved by the support of UC’s Gen-1 program. Being accepted into Gen-1 felt like “the stars aligned,” Dee says. As a nationally renowned living and learning community for first-generation students, the program helps students academically, financially and socially.

“The Gen-1 House is like a huge family,” Dee says. “The best thing about it is someone is probably dealing with the same thing you are, and you realize you’re not alone.”

Dianiesha JacksonDee took full advantage of everything UC and Gen-1 offered her. Through donor-supported scholarships and enrichment funds, she excelled as an organizational leadership major in the College of Arts & Sciences. She became a campus leader, interned at Macy’s and studied abroad in Vietnam—twice.

Before her graduation in May 2019, Dee accepted a full-time offer from Macy’s, and she currently is in their executive development program. As she looks back on how she got here, she has one word to describe it all: gratitude.

“As I think about my UC experiences, of course I’m inspired by donors,” Dee says. “They invested in me financially but also personally, and now I’m reaching the goals I never thought were possible.”

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