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SMU graduates Abena Marfo ’22 and Briana Morales ’21 shared with the Dallas Morning News their challenges and successes as first-generation students at SMU

Dallas Morning News

What first-generation North Texas students face: Grads share their stories

Abena Marfo’s mother was always adamant about education. After moving to Texas from Ghana, her mom wasn’t able to pursue her own college degree as she juggled work in preschools with raising two girls by herself.

She encouraged her daughters to earn theirs.

In May, Marfo graduated from Southern Methodist University with three bachelor degrees — sociology, health and society, and human rights.

Throughout her academic career, she worked different jobs, some simultaneously, to support herself and take some of the economic burden off her mother. She toiled as a research assistant for a history professor, a tech lab assistant, a peer counselor, a resident assistant and a student ambassador for the university.

“I never had the privilege of just being a student,” Marfo, 22, said. She would not only cover her own expenses, but also help her mother whenever she could.

Marfo quickly realized a need for students like herself to gather at the university, so she co-founded SMU’s First-Generation Association. READ MORE