ADA — Katricia Pierson's journey from clueless college freshman to East Central University presid
ent gives her plenty to draw on when it comes to relating to students and their struggles.
Young people who grew up in poverty, students who are the first in their family to tackle higher education, single moms trying to juggle coursework and home life — Pierson has been there.
"I'm really sympathetic to first-generation students that we see. They're coming out of family situations that I experienced," she said.
Pierson was a 21-year-old divorced mother of two boys when a friend from high school convinced her she was smart enough for college. With his encouragement, she enrolled at the University of Oklahoma.
She received Pell grants, student loans, a scholarship for single moms, welfare, commodity cheese and food stamps. Slowly, she learned to navigate the academic world.
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