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The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

Dickinson Celebrates First-Generation Students

On November 8, I attended Dickinson’s National First-Generation College Student Day celebration. During this event, alumni Brian Kamoie ’93 spoke about his experience as a first-generation college student who is now part of Dickinson’s board of trustees. I found his story to be incredibly inspiring, especially as a first generation college student myself. 

Kamoie began by talking about the most commonly shared problem among first-generation students, a lack of willingness to ask for help. Kamoie told the audience about how during his first year at Dickinson, he had a conversation with the Dean of Admissions about financial aid. Kamoie recollects asking about how he wished he had gotten more financial assistance from the college and the dean responded by saying, “Oh Brian, you could have just asked.” 

In response to this statement, Kamoie remembers thinking to himself, “How the hell would I have known to ask?” I related closely to this because I can recall countless times in my life where I have faced inconveniences that could have been easily resolved if I had only asked for help. For me, the reason why I hesitate to ask others for help is because of my experience growing up. Since I was little, my parents taught me to do everything myself and not be reliant on the assistance of others. However, as I got older, I realized that my parents were not always right and that there is nothing wrong with reaching out for help and asking for some much needed guidance. 

Kamoie talked about how he overcame the fear of asking for help by reminding himself that he had nothing to lose. Worst case scenario, according to Kamoie, is that you might ask someone for help and they respond with “No.” 

Kamoie then shared a personal story about his time studying abroad in Bologna, Italy. He had gotten an amazing internship opportunity, but it was unpaid and as a result he was in need of financial help. He had asked one of his professors at the time if they knew of any scholarships that he could apply for, and his professor said he would look into it for Kamoie. The next day, his professor handed him a check amounting to five thousand dollars so Kamoie could take advantage of the amazing learning opportunity. The point of this story is not about the money stipend, but it is an example of how far asking for help can take you. I thought it was interesting how after Kamoie told this story, a member in the audience called him lucky. Kamoie responded by saying that if you work hard, you will find yourself continuing to be lucky and that he feels now that it is his job to create luck for others. 

Another impactful part of the conversation was when Kamoie touched on the subject of “imposter syndrome.” Some of us know what it feels like to be an imposter, or that you don’t belong. He talks about how imposter syndrome can extend into adulthood, and the feeling that you have undeserved success may never go away. It does not matter whether you are a first-generation college student or not. I believe everyone feels like an imposter at some point. I have experienced this myself, and was sad to know that this feeling may never go away, but was also comforted by Kamoie’s words. Kamoie also shared a story about one of his co-workers, Shawn, and how during the time they both worked at the White House, Shawn had to give a briefing to President Obama. Kamoie remembers how Shawn went to the bathroom afterwards and threw up because he was so nervous. Shawn’s story is an example of what it feels like to be an imposter at times, even though I believe he clearly earned every aspect of his job. 

Kamoie ended the conversation with some advice for all first-generation students. Number one, according to Kamoie, is to “do more than what is asked, [and] do what needs to be done.” Number two, keep an open mind when getting to know the culture you have joined here in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Number three, don’t be afraid to ask questions and know you belong here. 



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    Anne AmorosoDec 2, 2023 at 10:29 am

    Awesome article, and Brian’s story is truly an inspiration to so many! To me, he has also been a good friend with a great heart especially after I got to know him more since graduation. It’s wonderful to see the many lives he has enriched by his advice, stories and guidance, including my own! Plus he’s a fun foodie! I wish him and Laura and their lovely girls continued success!