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When UK students Brittany Hurd and Lucas Isaacs stepped onto UK's campus for the first time, they did so not only as first-year students, but as the first people in their families to go to college.

"As a first generation student, Isaacs said he was nervous when he first arrived at UK, but that with the support from the Office of First Generation Initiatives, he realized the opportunities available to him through his new community.

"At first this was frightening, when I was a freshman; however, as I became aware of how tight-knit the 1G community is, I instantly became more comfortable, and the community welcomed me with open arms," Isaacs said. "I honestly feel like I have known some of these people my entire life."

Isaacs is a Robinson Scholar and 2012 resident of the First Generation Living Learning Program, one opportunity among many, that supports first-generation students at UK.

The Office of First Generation Initiatives also maintains a strong relationship with the UK International Center, providing education abroad opportunities specifically targeted toward first-generation students.

"The opportunity for students to see a world outside of Kentucky, interact with fellow citizens of the world and reflect upon their own place in the global community has been a driving force behind our initiatives,” said Matthew Deffendall, UK’s director of First Generation Initiatives and instructor for the COM 390 Global Workplace Communication course offered each summer. “Last summer 19 students spent three weeks in London, England, and we provided more than $15,000 in additional scholarship funds to make this experience possible.”

As the sense of community among first-generation students at UK continues to strengthen, students like sophomore First Scholar Brittany Hurd will chase their dream: to be the first in their family to attain a degree.

"With the support of First Scholars and my will-power and determination to accomplish my dreams, I will prove everyone wrong who doesn't believe in me," Hurd said. "I will set an example for every person who doesn't think that they can attend college and obtain a degree because of where they are from or their financial background."