Choosing opportunity: Donation to benefit first-generation students


Lizzie Kibler

Senior Andrew Kist is a first-generation student. His choice to attend NKU has opened many doorways for him.

The initial step to attending college is to make the decision to go.

But for a first generation student, the first of a family to go to college, it could be more difficult to make that choice.

Rich Boehne, the CEO of the E.W. Scripps Company and NKU alum (‘81) and the Scripps Howard Foundation recently donated $1 million to the Boehne Family First Generation Scholarship fund. This fund was established at NKU in 2012.

“I owe the university a great deal,” Boehne said.

Boehne attended NKU as a first-generation student.

“I struggled early on starting college and then I got in gear,” Boehne said. “Thank goodness, NKU was there.”

According to NKU’s director of public relations, Amanda Nageleisen, this donation will provide partial scholarships for about 20 first-generation students a year. Forty-nine percent of this year’s freshman class (entering Fall 2015) are first-generation students.

Boehne hopes that the scholarship will allow more of a choice for students to attend college despite possible financial problems and “potentially change the direction in their lives.”

Sophomore exercise science student Cortney Stone is one of those students that could benefit from this kind of donation.

“To me, being a first-generation student means setting the bar for my family,” Stone said. “However cocky it may sound, I hope that it will inspire some of my younger cousins to go to college also.”

Because of these types of scholarships, students are able to attend college and carry out their dreams.

Stone wants to be a physical therapist after she graduates.

“I think the scholarship will give some students the final push to go to college despite the fact that their family didn’t,” Stone said.

Stone did not receive a first-generation student scholarship this year.

Electronic media and broadcasting senior Andrew Kist is another first-generation student who did not receive the scholarship this year, but recognizes the benefits of these donations.

“Being a first generation student you’re kind of like the ‘first try’ of your family entering the world of secondary education,” Kist said. “You and your family go in for the first time not knowing really anything about college and how it works financially, how difficult it is and no one in the family can really speak from experience. As a first generation student, I feel sometimes like a trial and error and really the learning point of how to approach going into college.”

Kist noted how hard it is to be a first-generation student.

“When I was in high school, I really considered going into the car business of mechanics and collision repair or some other trade,” Kist said. “My father has worked in maintenance for over 20 years and encouraged me to not place myself in that career pool, saying that I was so much smarter and that I needed to go to college to get a degree. Aside from that, I came to college to get education that will help me in my career and life post-college.”

Kist’s drive to go to college and stay has been credited to his family and God.

“If it weren’t for my family and God, I would never have been able to make it to this point of my life,” Kist said. “The importance of family and faith in my life are above any importance of education, success, or any other life achievement.”

Boehne wants to see NKU as “a school that sits on the hill that represents an opportunity.”

That opportunity can help students like Kist and Stone.

“The experience of being a first-generation student means breaking away from my family in some sorts,” Stone said. “They’ve always been content with their monotonous lives and their monotonous jobs of fast food, retail, hospitality, but I don’t want to do that. I wanted to come to college to make something of myself and to truly make sure that I’m going to be happy.”