Deja McClary, Class of 2022 and a management information systems (MIS) major, is setting a new course for the future of her family.
A Statista survey from 2020 found that 21% of Gen Z students are first-generation college attendees. In fall 2021, Temple University welcomed the Class of 2025, which is the most ethnically and geographically diverse group the university has seen in 25 years—so McClary is in good company.
As the first in her family to attend college, she feels a particular sense of excitement and pressure to succeed.
“As a first-generation student, my family is very proud of me, and they think very highly of me, which is amazing, but I tend to feel pressure to have my life figured out while I’m still in college and not disappoint them,” McClary says. “It means so much to me that I could be the first one in my family to go to college. College gives me the chance at the type of life my family did not have, and being the first one to take this chance means a great deal.”
When first coming to college, choosing a major or an area of study can be stressful or feel overwhelming, but for McClary the decision-making process came with ease. She was passionate about technology, both learning the technical side and the opportunities that come from data analytics for organizations and the professionals working in them. When she discovered that MIS combined people, technology, organizations and the relationships among them, she knew she had to pursue MIS.
Knowing your major coming into college relieves some pressure and stress, but no student could anticipate attending school during a global pandemic.
“COVID-19 has definitely changed what I thought the college experience would be like,” McClary says. Despite the setbacks of the pandemic, she was still able to experience a lot of great things and is very happy with her experience so far.
After graduation, McClary is anticipating seeing the best version of herself.
“My goal is to see the kind of person I’ll be after I graduate,” McClary says. “How will I view the world? What will I want out of life? What kinds of people will I meet and how will they affect me? I’m excited to see who I will become. In five years, I see myself permanently living in Philadelphia, working in consulting and hopefully getting to travel to a few places on my bucket list.”
McClary offers some advice for incoming first-generation students. “I would say to get out there and make some friends. Being a first-generation student can be very difficult at times, and having a good support system can make a huge difference in how you deal with the challenges.”