BY: MAXINE MCDADE ’17
Students come and go through Pacific Lutheran University every year, each with their own stories and circumstances. That is part of what makes PLU’s campus so diverse. Some students enter as freshman while others enter as transfers. One student in particular made this transition not only as a transfer student to PLU, but also as the first in her family to go to college.
Leiana Tirado started as a junior at PLU this fall. She transferred from Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom after receiving her Direct Transfer Associate degree. Leiana not only manages a full time student schedule, she also works full time and still manages to make room for her personal life. Although managing her schedule can be difficult at times, Leiana said,
“One of the hardest parts of transferring is trying to figure out how to stand out compared to the other students.”
Transferring to another college is difficult, but Leiana says she is glad she chose to go to Pierce College before joining PLU. Community college was a step between high school and university, allowing her to prepare for what would be expected of her at PLU.
Even though neither of Leiana’s parents went to college, she never doubted her ability to be accepted to one.
“It just felt like the right thing to do.”
Leiana visited PLU a lot growing up. She took part in the school’s science fair, went to plays, and during high school visited the campus as a prospective University option. When the time came to decide where she wanted to go, Leiana knew PLU was the school for her.
Leiana applied only to PLU when the time came to transfer. When she found out that she got in she said she felt ecstatic. Her family and friends were also extremely proud of her. When Leiana told her boyfriend, Jed Salvadore, that PLU accepted her, he said he was happy for her.
“She has always been driven and dedicated and a hard worker. I was so excited for her.”
PLU has a nice setup for students who are first in their family to go to college.The school’s newly renovated Ordal Hall houses up to 30 residents who are students first in their family to attend college. The school’s Admission Office website says that a student can be considered a first-generation college student if “neither parent graduated from a four-year, degree granting institution within the U.S.”
The purpose of this community is to give first-generation college students a supportive community in which they can grow and succeed. According to campus statistics, 23.6 percent of this year’s fall semester transfer students are the first in their family to go to college. Having this kind of support system is important for those who live both on and off campus.
However, Leiana chooses to stay at home and commute to school so she can assist in caring for her mom. When liana’s mom was younger she had diabetes for a while and then when Leiana was born her mom became legally blind. Later on, she had to have both of her eyes surgically removed. Despite her mom’s encouragement to study away, Leiana chooses to stay home.
“She’s stubborn as hell, refuses to ask for help and denies assistance all the time,” says Leiana, “But I do what I can so she knows she isn’t alone and has my support.”
Although the amount of work and responsibilities proves challenging, Leiana continues to work hard. Like many other college students, writing everything down and making lists helps her to organize what she needs to do and schedule free time as well as when she has to work.
Leiana’s boyfriend Jed said, “We can find time to be together so long as we pay attention to our schedules and plan things out.”
Plans for the future are still indefinite. Leiana is majoring in communication with a concentration in public relations and advertising. However, she still isn’t sure what she wants to do after graduating. For now she plans on continuing to work hard and keep figuring out how best to succeed and make good connections at PLU.