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December 18, 2019

First-person perspectives from first-generation college students: Lindsey Mead, of SVSU

The following is a part of a series of first-person narratives from SVSU students who are part of the first generation of their families to attend college. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find links to additional student stories.

The following is a first-person perspective from SVSU student Lindsey Mead:

As a first-generation college student, my parents instilled in me that it’s best to pursue a career that inspired passion within me. At Saginaw Valley State University, I followed that advice and it has led me both on the path to study law and to help communities in need.

My parents always pushed me at least to follow my passions. As long as they knew I was trying my best, they were proud of me. That has been the most motivating factor for me; knowing that failure was an option and okay.

As an English major and pre-law student from Saginaw, I became involved with two groups my sophomore year that put me on the path to studying law: SVSU's Alternative Breaks program and the moot court team. When I applied to be a site leader for Alternative Breaks — an initiative that sends SVSU students to volunteer for national nonprofits during the university’s holiday breaks — I knew it was a risk because I had less experience with the program than most site leaders.

It was the first time I’d applied for something that was a stretch; where there was an opportunity to fail. When I got selected as a site leader, it made me want to rise up to the occasion. My passion for helping disadvantaged communities was enhanced by the experience. Alternative Breaks exposed me to communities outside of my own, struggling and prospering in ways that Saginaw isn’t.

A late start to my first season as a competitor for moot court could have been my excuse to not do as well ... or to quit. But I rose to the challenge and have qualified and competed in nationals for the past two years.

Acting as teams of two attorneys, students competing in moot court tournament are tasked with arguing two hypothetical legal cases based on real-life courtroom battles. The competition is judged based on the clarity of the students' argument, their public speaking skills, their ability to answer questions, and how well they know the law and the case.

The competition fit my passion for fighting to help others in need. What I want to do is advocate for people, and so moot court was the perfect stepping stone not only to my friend group – the people I’m closest with – but to my career path.

As a member of the 20th class of Roberts Fellows, one of SVSU's most prestigious student leadership development initiatives, I traveled to China, Taiwan, and Japan with my cohort last summer. The Roberts Fellows program focuses on fostering students with a strong interest in community engagement, and I used this program to help a local non-profit I already had ties to. Other Roberts Fellows and I organized a fundraiser to help pay for renovations at Community Village, a local assisted living facility, by inviting people to participate in a bowling tournament to raise funds for the cause. It was the first time I’d been placed in a room with that many leaders. It was the first time where I had to know when I needed to step down and follow.

After taking the LSAT in the fall, I continue to set high goals for myself. I am in the process of selecting a law school to attend.

The following are links to additional first-person perspectives from first-generation college students: 

Paloma Barba

Talia Pruiett

Jessalyn Gaskin

Mitch Hughes