University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

Christian Wendland (2013)

My First Generation Story

One of my favorite quotes is by poet Langston Hughes. As he eloquently says, “I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.” Through every stage of my life, I’ve realized more and more the true value of an education and that college is somewhere I really wanted to go. Being a first generation student makes my educational journey that much more gratifying.

Coming from a single-parent household that financially places me in the bottom bracket of students at my university has forced me to make sacrifices to thrive academically. I’ve never owned a laptop in my collegiate career; therefore, the library has become my second home. Yet through a diverse array of opportunities, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse has enflamed my spark of greatness. The support of some truly phenomenal individuals and programs has instilled in me an unwavering spirit of determination, making extraordinary achievement a reality.

I began college with little sense of direction. I received a dismal 2.3 GPA my first semester. However, with the help of wonderful faculty in the Office of Multicultural Student Services, and by being engaged with issues at the heart of student life as student senator for Black Student Unity, I’ve found my place. Being part of the track and field family has invigorated my competitive fire, where I’ve become an Academic All-American athlete and national champion.

My grandpa passed down to me a fascination for race relations. With the grateful guidance of the McNair Scholars program on campus, this is the research topic I’m exploring. The invaluable life experiences I’ve gained have allowed me to climb to a 3.9 GPA this fall and have pushed me to pursue graduate studies in public health at UC Berkeley. Reaching this stage of educational attainment could well be the determining factor that pulls my family out of our dismal economic situation or what allows for my 11-year-old adopted brother to believe he, too, can reach his dreams no matter how improbable. Being a first generation student has cemented my determination to continue to make the most of all the opportunities life provides for me.

About the Student

Christian Wendland Resized

Christian Wendland, 21, of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, is a proud McNair Scholar, an executive member of the university’s Black Student Unity organization, and a student senator on campus. Wendland is a two-time track and field All-American athlete and was a contributing member of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse 2013 NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship Team.

Student Stats

Name: Christian Wendland (2013)
Age: 21
Year in School: Junior
Major: Sociology
Favorite Course: Sociopharmacology
Dream Job: Public Health Attorney

About the School

UW-LAX Logo Final

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse provides a challenging, dynamic, and diverse learning environment in which the entire university community is fully engaged in supporting student success. Grounded in the liberal arts, UW-L fosters curiosity and life-long learning through collaboration, innovation, and the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge. Acknowledging and respecting the contributions of all, UW-L is a regional academic and cultural center that prepares students to take their place in a constantly changing world community.



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