Metropolitan State University

Rochelle Washington (2013)

My First Generation Story

My name is Rochelle Washington. I was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as were my mother and father. My mother was a single parent who has been on drugs for over 30 years, and my father was incarcerated for all of is life (since the age of 17). I'm a single parent of two children, ages 16 and 10. I currently work full time and attend college full time, too. I also take care of my two nephews.

About 10 years ago, I started college for the first time at a community college for financial management. Upon my father’s release from prison in July 2007, things changed. Once he was released, he was put in a hotel with a shower, refrigerator and a king-size bed. He called me and gave me the address of his hotel and I went to see him. He had never met my children before, and we all embraced him with love. My son and daughter started to ask him questions and learn more about him as the night progressed. The four of us fell asleep, but I woke up about 3 a.m. and noticed my father was gone. I put my feet on the floor to get up and saw him laying on the floor with a toothbrush in his hand. But it wasn't just an ordinary toothbrush—it had spikes on one side and a razor on the other. Right then I knew I wanted to go to school for criminal justice instead of financial management. I got back in the bed and never touched him, I just watched him sleep for the rest of the night in tears. I felt so bad, so hurt, so scared. I wanted to know what happened to the father I knew. All of my life my mother would say bad things about my father to degrade him, but instead of that making me have ill feelings for him, it only made me want to love him even more.

When my father was released I wanted to try my best to help him succeed this time around. My journey is still in progress, and even though my father is not alive today, it has just begun.

About the Student

Rochelle Washington Resized

Rochelle Washington was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A first generation student and single mother of two, Rochelle is working towards a degree in criminal justice and plans on becoming a lawyer.  

Student Stats

Name: Rochelle Washington (2013)
Age: 33
Year in School: Junior
Major: Criminal Justice and communications
Favorite Course: Criminal Courts
Dream Job: Criminal Lawyer/Judge

About the School

Metro State

Metropolitan State University offers over 60 baccalaureate majors, 10 master’s degrees, and 2 doctoral programs. Founded in 1971, the university is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and is the only state university in the Twin Cities.  It is a comprehensive urban university committed to meeting the higher education needs of those who live and work in the 13 county metropolitan area.

With a strong tradition of individualized educational programs, Metropolitan State University isfully committed to high-quality, affordable education for working adults.  Faculty, staff and more than 11,000 full- and part-time students reflect the area’s rich diversity, provide a highly student-centered environment and demonstrate unwavering commitment to civic engagement. 



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