Lehman College

Dorothy Williams-Wallen (2014)

My First Generation Story

As I reflect on how I have overcome many challenges in my pursuit of higher education, I am reminded of a poem I learned in elementary school. The poem, written by Henry Longfellow, states, “The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companion slept, were toiling upward through the night.”

As a non-traditional student at Lehman College in the Bronx, N.Y., I have worked extra hard while taking care of my family, sacrificing sleep, family time, and socializing with friends in order to maintain good grades. I am tenacious and eager to reach my ultimate goal in life: a master’s degree in economics.

Being a young mother, I did not have the opportunity to pursue higher education after high school. But I have no regrets, because I have learned tenacity, perseverance and commitment in my role as a mother, which has inspired my motivation to succeed. Although my quest for higher education was delayed, I had no doubt I would fulfill my dream one day. After many years of developing and growing into the woman that I am, I have learned many lessons that continue to inspire my quest for excellence in academics and volunteer work.

I am the first of six siblings to attend college. I believe this provides positive motivation for others in my family who may not have the drive or opportunity to seek higher education. I am not only striving for excellence for myself, but carrying a mantle for members of my family.

In 2012, I was selected to journey to China as a member of the International Scholar Laureate Program, Student Delegation on Business 2012. As part of the program, I spent two weeks in a rigorous study program in Beijing, Hangzhou and Shanghai China. I also recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in a roundtable discussion at the White House.

I want to encourage other non-traditional students and students who do not have ready access to higher education, to embrace the opportunities that life has afforded them, even in the face of great adversities. I have persevered and will continue to do so in my career path. I hope that my example will inspire others to overcome their challenges, learn significant lessons and rise to higher heights.

About the Student

Dorothy Williams-Wallen

Dorothy Williams-Wallen grew up in Jamaica, West Indies, and is the first of six siblings to attend college. She previously worked at St. Francis Hospital and Reliable Financing Mortgage firm in New York, NY. She is a member of the Herbert H. Lehman Center for Student Leadership Development and revived the college’s Model UN Club. She was recently selected by the International Scholar Laureate Program to travel to China and participate in a roundtable discussion at the White House with her Lehman peers. In September 2013, she was awarded a prestigious scholarship from the St. George’s Society of New York.

Student Stats

Name: Dorothy Williams-Wallen (2014)
Age: 48
Year in School: Senior
Major: Economics
Favorite Course: Economics
Dream Job: Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank

About the School

FGV: Lehman College

With more than 60,000 alumni and 12,000 students, Lehman College serves the Bronx and the surrounding region as an intellectual, economic, and cultural center. The college is named after Herbert H. Lehman, who was governor of New York State, a U.S. Senator and an internationalist. His values of dedicated public service continue to guide the college today.



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