Clayton State University

Debra Couch (2010)

My First Generation Story

Being the first in my family to attend college is amazing and very stressful. Amazing because I'm the first in a long line of my ancestors. My paternal grandmother's family has been here since the early 1600's and in 1933 became the first fami to move to Penderlea, N.C., a farm town established by Roosevelt's New Deal. My other grandparents have been here for quite a long time as well, my maternal grandmother is descendent of Cherokee Indians. It's stressful because, well, I'm the first I feel as though my family is now depending on me, counting on me, expecting me to do well.

I have to say, up until this year, I haven't been very impressive. I first attempted college right out of high school and failed miserably. I dropped out before the end of my first semester. I then attended a trade school and did finish, however, this particular school made a lot of empty promises to "guarantee employment" and my certification lapsed. In 2002 I enrolled at Clayton State University. I made it for the first two full semesters, but, at the beginning of my third semester, I had to withdraw because my son was sick. After many, many doctor visits and a slew of letters - ADHD, ODD, OCD, ASD, AD -- we finally made it to an Autism doctor who when my son was seven, diagnosed him with Asperger's Syndrome, highly functional form of Autism. We have also found out that my daughter has a tendency to exhibit symptoms.

After many years of doctors, school visits/transfers, medication, new doctors, alternative medicine, pushing to get my daughter in gifted classes, working with my husband (literally, I have always worked with my husband, he currently owns a refinishing company), he finally noticed I wasn't "in to it" and he wanted me to do something for me. I started back at Clayton State in January. However, my family initially wasn’t very supportive, considering my track record.

Now, my grandfather, who is very sick, looks to me to answer all his health questions and translate what the doctors are actually saying. To hear my grandpa say he is proud of me, and for him to see me graduate, will be an amazing accomplishment. So, what does attending college mean for me… everything!

About the Student

Debra Couch of Griffin, Ga., is a sophomore majoring in nursing at Clayton State University. Debra is a mother of two, Nickol and Hunter Couch, a student, and works for a refinishing company owned by her husband. She is the daughter of Eddie and Christine Dixon. Debra looks forward to being a nurse in a major level I trauma center or in a facility in an under-privileged country. 

Student Stats

Name: Debra Couch (2010)
Age: 33
Year in School: Sophomore
Major: Nursing
Favorite Course: Chemistry & Anatomy
Dream Job: Nurse in a Level I trama center or in a facility in an under-privileged country

About the School

Clayton State University logo

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta. Clayton State now enrolls 6,000+ students in undergraduate and graduate degree credit programs that, in the words of the University’s mission, provide “career-oriented education with a solid liberal arts foundation.” The University currently has 40 undergraduate majors and eight master’s programs, with more under development.



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