Finding Community and Support as a First-Generation College Student: Noha’s Story
As a first-generation college student, Noha has had to figure out a lot by herself: when to take the SATs, how to choose a major, how to reach out to professors for guidance and support, and how to navigate a community of fellow students who seemed to have their lives and careers already planned from early childhood. “I didn’t necessarily expect to go to college – and when I did, I still felt out of place at first,” she recalls. “It seemed like everyone else already knew what they wanted to do and how to interpret it into a career. I had imposter syndrome, but at the time, I didn’t yet know what that was.”
Getting involved in Residence Life helped Noha discover how many other students were facing the same challenges and uncertainties. “I found out that I wasn’t the only one doing this alone. Lots of people felt the same way. It’s so important to learn to reach out for support and advice. Now, as a Resident Advisor, I focus on helping others learn to make those important personal connections.”
Noha’s academic path came into focus when her excellent work in a Sociology course drew the professor’s notice. “He reached out to encourage me and push me to consider making Sociology my career. In my upbringing, authority figures keep you in line, but you’re expected to figure it out yourself. This was the first time I had an authority figure showing me what to do and how to do it.”
Now a Senior in Sociology, Noha plans to further her education by pursuing a Master’s in Social Work with a focus on K-8 education. “I’ve always been interested in people,” she says. “So much of who we are comes from our connections, relationships, and the environments where we live with other people. I’m drawn to work with children and families because that’s where I feel like I can make a difference and apply what I’ve learned to help people.”
Receiving the WWIN Star Scholarship helped strengthen Noha’s confidence and sense of community – and it eased her financial worries, assuring her that she could meet the many non-tuition expenses that are often left uncovered by other sources of financial aid. “When I heard I’d been accepted by WWIN – and for the full amount – I was in shock! The Star Scholarship has made such a difference. It has allowed me to afford my books and live on campus – and it made me feel so excited to be part of a community that supports each other.”
Noha encourages other first-generation college students to apply for the WWIN Star Scholarship and to keep seeking support throughout their education journey. “Asking questions is so important,” she says. “Many of us come from cultures and families where we are expected to figure things out by ourselves. You have to allow yourself to use the resources that are there for you and ask for help, even when you aren’t sure a resource exists. Give yourself the grace for not knowing things. As isolating as it can feel, there are so many people who feel the same way and can help you. You are not alone.”
Welcome Deb Frockt, WWIN’s New Executive Director
We are delighted to announce that the WWIN Board of Directors has selected Deborah Frockt as WWIN’s new Executive Director. With a career spanning human services, education, and the arts, Deb brings extensive nonprofit leadership experience and a deep, personal understanding of the importance of WWIN’s mission to the lives of women and families in Washington.
“I felt an immediate connection to WWIN’s mission and impact. I’ve seen firsthand that investing in women changes the lives of individuals, families, and communities. I believe in removing the barriers and changing the systems that constrain women and diminish their ability to live with dignity, stability, and purpose.”Deb Frockt, incoming WWIN Executive Director
Deb is an innovative leader who has guided nonprofit organizations through periods of significant change to greater strength and stability. Most recently, she served as Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Family & Career Services. In addition to her executive leadership experience, Deb has led Development, Marketing and Communications, Public Outreach and Community Building, and Government Affairs efforts for a range of nonprofit organizations. Deb began her career as a playwright and dramaturg, and these experiences have shaped her leadership style grounded in communication and collaboration.
Deb grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and she has happily called Seattle home for nearly three decades. She and her husband have two grown sons, one in LA and one in Chicago. Please join us in welcoming Deb to our WWIN community!
Be a Champion for Inspiring Women: Transformation!
It’s not too late to become a Champion in this year’s virtual week-long Inspiring Women: Transformation campaign!
As a Champion, you can inspire your friends, family, and colleagues to help empower Washington women to complete their higher education and achieve living-wage careers. With you as our Champion, there is no limit to the number of people who can connect with WWIN, meet our Star Scholars, and help provide the support women need to accomplish their dreams. Each of us can make a difference that changes a woman’s life – and when we come together, we can transform our world, one woman at a time.
Thank you for supporting WWIN Star Scholars. We look forward to celebrating their stories with you during this year’s Inspiring Women: Transformation campaign!