As a first-generation student from Florida, attending Wichita State was a huge step for Theresa Le. She found the balance and resilience necessary to make her college career successful and now plans to start her own business.
Theresa is one of more than 2,400 students eligible for spring/summer 2020 graduation. Learn more about her time at Wichita State and what is next for the grad.
What is your degree in?
I will be earning my Bachelor of Arts in communication with an emphasis in integrated marketing communications. I am also minoring in women’s studies.
What led you to WSU?
I am from Florida but moved to Kansas the summer before my freshman year of college. Although I was away from home when I was touring WSU, there was such an inviting atmosphere, and everyone I met made sure I felt welcomed. From then on, I knew WSU had the support network and community to make me feel at home. That is one of the main reasons that led me to WSU.
How are you feeling leading up to graduation?
What seemed to be four long years flew by so quickly—it’s bittersweet. I’m beyond grateful for the experiences, personal development and all the dedicated professors and resources who have helped me prepare for the next chapter in my life. I would have never thought I’d be graduating virtually though.
What are your career plans?
I plan on pursuing my Master of Business Administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship and innovation at WSU. I plan to own my own business and contribute to the growing number of female-owned businesses. I have also started my new position as a marketing & special events coordinator at a local non-profit.
How has the COVID-19 crisis altered those plans, if at all?
It did not significantly alter those plans, although it did impact my last semester of college. As a first-generation college student and the only child, I am not able to experience the significant milestone of walking across the stage. Also, I was not able to get the full closure of saying my farewells to my professors, advisors or friends. Luckily, there might be many opportunities to see them again in the fall while I’m in graduate school.
What advice do you have for students on how to cope with the uncertainty of these times?
The best thing we can do for ourselves in these times is have self-compassion. Interacting with people on campus is one of the main aspects of the college experience. That came to an abrupt ending and was difficult for many of us. Knowing that we aren’t struggling with this alone and not the only ones disappointed helped me cope with the sudden change.
What has been your most helpful learning experience while a student at WSU?
My most helpful learning experience was being an ambassador for diversity & inclusion. My time as an ambassador will always be cherished because I was able to learn different perspectives backgrounds and educate myself and others on campus. It allowed me to ‘lean into discomfort’ and have tough conversations, which helped me further develop my leadership skills.
What was been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was coming into college as a first-generation college student. It’s a significant accomplishment but also a difficult one. At first, I felt unprepared about how to navigate college and the resources available to me, on top of being new to Kansas. I also carried a lot of pressure and self-doubt. Over time, I accepted that these are normal feelings many first-gen students feel and reached out to my professors, who later became great mentors to me. That helped me find a balance between academics and family life and gave me the overall confidence and resilience to be successful throughout these four years.