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Celebrating First-Generation Students, Part II: The College Experience

Category: Fraternity

Mindy Marshall

Gamma, Butler

Last fall, we shared a story about Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC) Property Manager Shelby Allen’s journey to becoming a first-generation college student. In this blog, we’re proceeding to her next chapter: The college experience.

Shelby was accepted into her university of choice: The University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). She arrived on campus feeling empowered after her success in navigating the admissions and financial aid application processes. Shelby embraces community and immediately got involved in the campus community, speaking with established students and creating her networks, including within her majors, which were strategic communications and dance performance.

In a last-minute decision, Shelby decided to participate in Panhellenic recruitment. Although she hadn’t had much exposure to Greek life, it was known on campus that if you wanted to be involved, to make a difference, and to have fun, you needed to join a Greek organization. She also noticed when she looked at undergraduate leadership—everyone from the student leaders to new student orientation representatives—there was a common thread: Many of them were Greek.

Shelby went into the recruitment process with an open mind, and she was a blank slate; not knowing much about the different organizations, she wanted to learn what each one offered and to see if Greek life would be a good fit for her. The rest is history! Shelby found a home with Sigma Kappa Sorority and is now working full-time as a professional in Greek life. She says she would not be in this field—which she loves!—if her undergraduate experience hadn’t been so impactful. She wants to continue this legacy by sharing her story with other college women. Women in leadership, leadership development, and mentoring all light a fire for her. She loves working with college-age students.

Shelby (center) pledged Sigma Kappa while at OCU.

When asked what she would tell other first-generation college students, Shelby responded, “Try not to be too hard on yourself! The university environment can be very difficult to navigate. Ask questions and do not feel ashamed. Be brave and try new things. College is a great time to tailor your interests and discover who you are; you can start to identify the values that you will hold for the rest of your life. Also, ask for help when you need it.”

Shelby attended Indiana University for her master's degree in n Higher Education and Student Affairs.

Shelby was chosen as homecoming queen her senior year and graduated with honors from UCO. After completing her studies, she worked as a traveling leadership consultant for two years. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana University. She is currently a property manager for the Kappa Alpha Theta FHC.