First-generation college student Robel Clifton came to live in Salmon, Idaho at the age of 12 from Ethopia after being adopted by an “amazing mom” who taught him from the beginning how valuable education could be in his life.
Though Salmon was very different than what he thought of America as a boy from Ethiopia, he acclimated and figured like many teenagers that after high school he’d find something to do – just not necessarily college. His mom had a different plan. “You had to have a clear plan in our household,” said Clifton. Trusting how much value his mom placed on education, he realized his plan was college.
Once Clifton applied and was accepted to Boise State, he also realized he didn’t know exactly where Boise State was or what he wanted to study. Fast forward a few years and it’s clear that Clifton is in the right place. He has become a highly successful senior who will graduate in 2023 with a degree in chemistry with an applied mathematics minor with the support of the TRIO STEM Scholars program.
The TRIO STEM Scholars program supports students from limited-income backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math degree programs and prepares them for careers and graduate study in their field. Clifton’s advisor Ryan Brevik have helped push him to succeed and keep him accountable to those who are supporting him on campus. The program has also helped Clifton manage stress with group activities like visiting the Discovery Center of Idaho, where he can hang out with his peers in the program and not feel like he is tackling college and his studies alone.
After Clifton earns his bachelor’s, he’s considering going into medicine or pharmacy work. Either way, he is going to carefully select his career based on the values he has kept throughout college about family and balance. “I want my family to be the central point of what I am doing,” said Clifton. “I want a job that offers me the opportunity to spend time with my family.”
In recognition of the annual First-Generation College Celebration on November 8, the College of Education is profiling outstanding first generation students November 8-12. The Center for Multicultural Educational Opportunities, housed in the College of Education, includes a variety of programs that support first-generation college students.