Central Michigan University

Kelsey Heck (2013)

My First Generation Story

My grandmother never went to college; it just was not an option for the eldest of 10 kids. Instead, she raised a family and then managed a successful diner for nearly 15 years. She pushed my mother to try to instill in her the importance of continuing education. My mother never finished college; instead, she worked as a waitress at the diner my grandparents owned. My mother was fired when the restaurant was sold. She worked her way up from a part-time job to a management position in less than five years. These are the women I come from and the women I look up to.

My parents divorced when I was young and I spent most of my early childhood in the care of my grandparents. Both my mother and my grandmother encouraged me to talk and read at a young age. My mom did not have a lot of extra cash around, but what she did have she used to buy me books. When I entered Head Start I was already precociously bright. I was also small for my age, from a “broken” home, and an easy crier. Learning was my constant refuge; it was the place I could count on to be the same every day. The social navigation of the classroom, however, was not where I stood out.

I always knew that I was different from my peers at school. I grew up in a small Northern Michigan farming community. I spent recess reading books instead of playing kickball. I snuck maps into my desk to learn the names of all the places I would travel and live someday. I loved coming to school every September and dreaded leaving for the summer every June. I was born to learn. Eventually I came to understand that being the intelligent, independent and opinionated kid in the class was not a recipe for making friends. It took some time, but I came to learn who I am—I am a patient teacher, I can stand out from a crowd, I can defend others—and that social awkwardness was my only strength I hadn’t grown into yet.

It has not been easy to get to where I am. I have worked hard, but I have also been blessed. Now entering my senior year of college, I know that there is not an obstacle large enough to shake the faith and strength I inherited from the women in my life. My newest dream is graduate school. Daunting? Definitely, but I say bring it on!

About the Student

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Kelsey Heck is from a small town in Northern Michigan. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, jogging and watching television. She is excited to enter her senior year of undergraduate studies at CMU and continue to expand her world view.

Student Stats

Name: Kelsey Heck (2013)
Age: 21
Year in School: Junior
Major: Sociology
Favorite Course: The Family
Dream Job: Political Consultant

About the School

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Central Michigan University, with a main campus in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and more than 60 locations across the U.S., is nationally recognized for academic excellence in more than 200 programs. Cutting edge research, new facilities, graduate programs and top faculty ensure an education that is one of the best in the state.



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