By Joe Garvey

A total of 47 Old Dominion University students - along with President John R. Broderick and First Lady Kate Broderick - are initial inductees into the University's Tau Chapter of Alpha Alpha Alpha, a national honor society for first-generation students.

The ODU inductees, who were all undergraduates, met the following criteria: having completed 30 credit hours and a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, and neither their parents, step-parents nor guardians completed a bachelor's degree. The President and First Lady, who are first-generation college graduates, were inducted as honorary members. You can view a recording of the ceremony at this link.

Don Stansberry, interim vice president of Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, who is also a first-generation college graduate, noted that ODU is a First Forward institution that is committed to advancing the social mobility of its students.

"Tonight we applaud your hard work and efforts," he said during a virtual ceremony on Oct. 26.

First Lady Kate Broderick noted that her four younger siblings and President Broderick's only sibling followed their paths to obtain degrees. The Brodericks' three sons also have degrees from ODU.

"Back when we entered school, the term 'social mobility' was not associated with gaining a college education," she said. "But it was obvious then, as it is now, that a degree truly prepares all of us for a better path ahead in life ... including those in our current and future families. As a result of our degree attainment, all three of our sons were always taught the importance of going to college, to ensure not only opportunities to gain a better job, but also a chance to learn about various aspects of life from faculty, staff and fellow students."

President Broderick discussed the challenges he faced as a first-generation student.

"Like so many of you, attending college as a first-generation student wasn't easy for me," he said. "I had no one at home who could provide answers to the challenging questions. So, I had to go find solutions myself. This was sometimes a daunting task. However, it did pave the path in my future to seek information, rather than wait for it."

Kasey Jordan, ODU's Tri-Alpha Tau Alpha Chapter president, is a senior studying elementary education who plans to obtain a job within the Richmond-area schools.

"As a first-generation student, I had to overcome many obstacles to get here," she said. "I hope my story inspires others to never give up and stay committed. A special thank you to ODU faculty, staff and fellow inductees. I will leave you with my favorite quote: What you do today can improve all of your tomorrows."

President Broderick echoed those sentiments.

"Being able to tell someone, no matter what your occupation ends up being, that you were a first-generation grad provides hope for them that they can do it, too," he said. "I still remember a kindly faculty member telling me he was the first in his family to graduate from high school, college and eventually earn a Ph.D. It was comforting to know on my journey I was far from alone."

Kristal Kinloch-Taylor, a co-advisor for ODU's chapter who organized this ceremony with fellow advisor Erin Colwell, noted that ODU's first-gen students will take over the University's Instagram page on Nov. 5 to celebrate National First-Gen Day. On Nov. 12, ODU will conduct its annual pinning ceremony to honor graduating first-gen students.

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