First-Generation Student Rises Above Expectation

Allie Broockerd

College is a difficult endeavor on its own. Being the first in a family to pursue a college education tends to compound this difficulty. Kyle Quiett, senior biology major, has experienced the obstacles of overcoming his socio-economic status. 

“College was never mentioned to me, not one single time growing up,” Quiett said. “My parents were thrilled that I graduated high school.” 

Quiett comes from a low-income family in the Topeka area. The highest level of education his  parents have are GED diplomas, and the concept of college  first occurred to him one day after a talk with his aunt. 

“I joined the Army one day after getting into an argument with my Mom,” Quiett said. “I was straight out of high school and I liked the stability of the military, but I didn’t want to stay in. I mentioned the possibility of going back to school one day to my aunt, and she helped me get the ball rolling.”

Quiett had never bothered to take the ACT, so he  took  Washburn’s placement test, the compass test. Before he knew it he was enrolled. 

“I remember coming home from my first day of cell biology and telling my Mom that I wasn’t sure if I could do this,” Quiett said. “I was so intimidated by my classes at first, but I realized that you don’t have to be a genius to pass, you just have to do the work.”

Quiett had academic difficulties that he had to learn to work through, although he says that his biggest obstacle has been his family. 

His mother has a history of drug addiction and his father struggles with alcohol abuse. The drama created by this situation regularly distracts him from academics and his future goals. 

“My family wants good things for themselves,” Quiett said. “They just don’t know what to do to achieve good things. They feel stuck in their situation like a lot of people do. They don’t know what to do to get out of it. I believe education is the only way for me to break the cycle.”

Quiett also believes that the key to his success in college has been the relationships he has formed with his professors. 

“Brownie points matter,” Quiett said. “The more time you invest in your schoolwork and the more you care, the more understanding professors will be. I have had family issues pop up, but my professors gave me the benefit of the doubt. Go to your professors during their office hours.”

Quiett is not sure exactly what life will look like after graduation. He  hopes to eventually become a professor. 

“I want a family and I think I want to teach,” Quiett said. “Right now I’m just praying to the academic gods that the rest of this year goes smoothly and that I graduate in May.”