Vol State is joining in the celebration of First-Generation college students with profiles of students this week and a series of events
A First-Generation college student is defined as a student whose parent(s) did not complete a bachelor's degree and who is resilient, determined, driven, persistent, tenacious, hopeful, supportive, AND is a trailblazer who inspires others!
Check out this student story:
The Gooch Family
Here’s a unique way to overcome the challenges faced by first-generation college students: have the whole family attend at the same time. The Gooch family of Sparta currently has six members of the immediate family in college. Barbara Gooch is the mom. She’s due to graduate from Vol State this spring. She says that being able to help each other is a real benefit.
“It has been incredibly helpful. I’ve noticed how much more I understand since the first one went to school. And I can understand what they are going through. When they’re feeling overwhelmed, I understand.”
Barbara’s two daughters were the first to attend college, but both of them stopped for a while. They went back and now everyone can offer support.
“I think I would have been overwhelmed if it was just me at first, but having the other two in school helped. You need someone to help you with the college lingo. It takes a lot to understand all of the terms and technicalities.”
The college process can be complicated. And then there is the matter of juggling life and college coursework. “My second daughter just had a baby. She had to balance having a newborn and going to college.”
And it’s not just Barbara and the kids going to college. Her husband, Russell, also attends Vol State. He works full time, as well as her daughter. “Seeing them be committed to coming home from work and then do college is great. Some people may not realize how hard it is for adult students.”
Barbara doesn’t just help her family navigate college, she reaches out to other people who need help. “Because of that experience I’ve helped several students apply to college.” She even started a Facebook group page where students can ask questions and share challenges with each other. “My heart is to advise students and so it’s another way of outreach. It’s been nice to be able to help other people, because it can be really confusing.”
Barbara’s son will graduate from Tennessee Tech in May and she plans to attend Tech after graduating from Vol State. She has gone to school part-time thus far, due to all of her family commitments, but she has told everyone that she plans to attend university full-time.
“I have to concentrate to get this done,” she said, laughing.
Weddings and babies certainly provide life challenges for the adult student. Barbara said she is proud of what her family has accomplished. “We may all have different paths, but we’re trying to better ourselves with education. With ReConnect, we became responsible for taking this opportunity that was given to us. We are loving this journey.”
Here’s Barbara’s update on where things stand with the family and their education:
Vol State Cookeville students in the family:
Barbara Gooch (94' White County High) - me- General Ed Associates with hopeful transfer to Tenn Tech for a degree in something higher ed. Also, current OpenStax national intern (OER Advocate). Open Education Resource publisher. May 21'
Russell Gooch (92' White County High) - husband- General Ed Associates or Business Associates
Kelsey Heathco (11' White County High)- Psych Associate's - Has a 4 year old and due in November. Fall 21'
Tallen Gooch (15' White County High) - Mechatronics AAS and Mechanical Engineering Associate's. Has an infant. May or Fall 21'
TN Tech students in the family:
Spencer Gooch (17' White County High, Top Ten #6) TN Tech May 21' Double Major in Accounting and Finance Tech Academic Scholarship. Aside from dual enrollment classes, Russell and I started at the same time as Spencer when he went to Tech full time.
Trinity Gooch (18' White County High) Move on When Ready Early Graduate. Graduated 1 1/2 years early. TN Tech May 22' BA Education -English Second Language Tech Academic Scholarship