Salisbury University

Arielle Hannah Tesoriero (2018)

My First Generation Story

When I was eight years old, I rewrote and illustrated my own version of the 2005 film Dreamer, the story of an injured race horse. I stole about 30 sheets of paper from my mother's copier, clumsily gluing pages together and drawing horses running across pastures with such captions as “Me riding Dreamer.” Since that moment, I knew I wanted to pursue an education involving art and writing, but I wasn't sure how.

College was not discussed in my household. Neither of my parents graduated high school. They dropped out, ran away and had me, moving from Long Island, N.Y., to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to live and work on a chicken farm with my Nanny and Grandaddy. The eldest of five children and the daughter of a legally blind man, my family has lived in poverty my entire life. The high school I attended is in one of the state’s poorest counties. I never had money to buy school lunch. I never had money for field trips, SAT prep or even the movies with friends. College was another thing my parents couldn't afford—and they frankly weren't interested in me going at all.

At first, I didn't understand why I couldn't attend a $60,000-per-year art school in New York City like I had always wanted. I didn't know much about college or how it worked. I just knew I wanted to go. Uncertain about my future and with no one to turn to, I applied to Salisbury University and found out my Pell Grant would cover my tuition.

My first few weeks spent at the university, I felt out of place and defeated. But my attitude and outlook quickly improved as I discovered the many extracurricular activities and course offerings the university offered. Exhibits, performances, musicals, the orchestra, artist talks, lectures, dance classes—anything I could think of! I started attending cultural events every day. I loved my classes, and registered for anything I found interesting. I went to lectures that weren't mine just to take notes. I became obsessed with learning and studying. I had fallen in love with Salisbury University.

Now, as I reflect on my experience, I couldn't be happier. The professors and staff at Salisbury University have been so helpful and caring. I am extremely lucky that even with my family’s financial circumstances, I was able to pursue my childhood dream of receiving a college education.

About the Student

Arielle Hannah Tesoriero

Arielle Tesoriero is a senior at Salisbury University (SU), working on her B.F.A. in painting. She lives in Crisfield, Md,. commuting to Salisbury for school and work. She started painting when she was 12, originally working with acrylic. Now she works primarily with oil in large-scale, contemporary realism. Tesoriero is a member of the SU Honors College and has presented research for women studies and art history at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and the Popular Culture Association of the South Conference. Tesoriero’s hobbies include creative writing, musical theatre, traveling, horseback riding and conducting scholarly research.

Student Stats

Name: Arielle Hannah Tesoriero (2018)
Age: 20
Year in School: Senior
Major: Fine Arts - Painting
Favorite Course: Women in Literature
Dream Job: Gallery/museum curator in New York or Paris

About the School

img-Arielle Hannah Tesoriero  Salisbury University_Logo.jpg

Salisbury University (SU) is a premier comprehensive Maryland public university offering excellent, affordable education in undergraduate liberal arts, sciences, business, nursing, education and social work, and applied master’s and doctoral programs. Our highest purpose is to empower our students with the knowledge, skills and core values that contribute to active citizenship, gainful employment and lifelong learning in a democratic society and interdependent world. SU cultivates and sustains a superior learning community where students, faculty and staff are viewed as learners, teachers/scholars and facilitators, and where a commitment to excellence and openness to a broad array of ideas and perspectives are central to all aspects of university life. Our learning community is student-centered. Learn more at



  • Kellee Edmonds
    Vice President of Communications and Public Relations
    (202) 478-4662