Aunjnae White, a first-generation student, will work at a domestic violence shelter following graduation with a degree in psychology from WSU.
White is one of more than 1,100 students eligible for fall 2021 graduation. Learn more about her time at Wichita State and what is next for the grad.
What degree did you earn?
I am receiving a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a minor in women’s studies.
What is your hometown?
I am from Kansas City, Kansas.
What led you to Wichita State?
I received more funding from WSU than from the other schools I applied for. Plus, it is only three hours away from home. I am a huge family-orientated person so being close to family was important to me. When I first started my undergraduate degree, I wanted to be able to apply for the RN program because I heard how great it was. Once I got to WSU and realized science was not for me, that is when I decided to change my major. I changed my major about three times before I made a final decision.
How are you feeling leading up to graduation?
I am so excited to finish strongly, and I am so happy to achieve this goal. This degree means so much to me because I wanted to achieve this goal for my family. I wanted to break the generational curse in my family by going off to college and I did that. I am truly proud of myself because it has been a troublesome process. As I have stated before, I am a huge family person and life is scary, there were many times I wanted to give up. I almost lost both of my grandparents during my college journey and it has been heavy on my heart to lose them before I walk across the stage. So now that graduation is only a few short days away I am thanking God for keeping my grandparents healthy and strong and they will watch me walk across that stage. It feels great to finally say I am finishing with my bachelor's degree, and I am ready for a break because I need it.
What has been your most helpful learning experience while a student at Wichita State?
Being in Student Support Services and Disability Services has truly been a blessing for me. They have helped me receive so many scholarships and helped with tutoring services. They even helped me with scholarships to pay for books and supplies for classes. I have encountered so many people I cannot name them all. Many WSU facilities and staff have been a true blessing on this college journey, and I am thankful. Without their help, I would not be as successful because they have strived for me to be a better person.
What has been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?
Paying for college has been a huge struggle. I did not come to this school on a scholarship and my family could barely send me here on their own. So, I always struggled with working two to three jobs while taking a 12-hour course load my whole five years at WSU. But having so many resources as we do on campus has helped me overcome and achieve my goal of completing college. I will say that living on campus is a great experience for first-year students because you are able to explore and better acquainted with campus friends.
What are your plans after graduation?
I plan to return home, take a semester break, and start my career off working at a domestic violence shelter. I am also looking to work at Cornerstone, which is an organization that works with children who are runaways with behavioral or mental issues. I have so much experience in
different areas of work that I do not really have a clear answer. But next fall I will begin my master's degree at Mizzou in social work and hope to receive my LMSW. With that master's degree I have plenty of specialties areas that I can work in. I hope to just be able to work in an area where I can help those who truly need me. I want to help communities to be able to express their feelings and concerns so that we can make the community a better place.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your time at Wichita State or your post-graduation plans?
This COVID-19 pandemic has been hard the first year because COVID affected my family and my own finances. My grandmother contracted the virus, but she is doing well and feels better than she has ever felt before. My grandfather was stuck at home, and I would drive back probably every weekend to be with him. He loves it when I come home because he says I am his doctor, so I always do things that make him feel better. It is a blessing to be able to take care of my grandparents because I know many do not have that luxury. I live in the community here in Wichita, so I had to worry about keeping a roof over my head let alone keeping up with studies. I was about to drop out of college and return home, but miracles came, and I was able to stick it out and look at me now graduating this semester. My last four semesters of college have been a wreck, but I am so happy even in a pandemic, I achieved this dream.
What advice would you give other Wichita State students?
I really want to give advice to African American first-generation students and let them know you can do it. Where I come from, few are even able to make it out of our neighborhood and do remarkable things with their life. I get reminded every day about how proud people are because I have achieved a goal that many have not had the luxury to do. But I want those students to know you can do it and if only I could tell you how many setbacks I have had these past five years. You will want to give up because I wanted to so many times, but just keep faith and remember the light at the end of the tunnel will be what you always dreamed of.