Meet A First-Generation College Student Whose Drive Changed Her Life

The Keuka College sophomore was recently awarded the New York College Learning Skills Association 2022 Promising Student Award.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Keuka College sophomore Nancy Campuzano, a first-generation college student, has big plans for herself — she wants to become a teacher and create a better life for herself and her family.

She’s well on her way to making her dream of earning a bachelor’s degree a reality, thanks to receiving a New York College Learning Skills Association 2022 Promising Student Award. The award recognizes the challenges students may face relating to the expenses of higher education. 
“I was very appreciative, and I was so thankful. There are lots of things you have to do, like buy books. That’s why this award was so meaningful,” says Nancy. “I am proud because I tried so hard and this is an important recognition for me.” 
The elementary education major lives with her mom and five siblings in a small Brooklyn apartment, so attending college was a big deal for her. 
“My whole plan is to save enough and be able to help my mom, because she still has my little siblings who are in middle school,” says Nancy. “Me and her are really close, so she wanted me to pick a school that was near so I could just go home anytime. (Keuka College is farther away than she would have liked, but I had to come here for my education.”
That education has been enhanced by Keuka College’s Field Period® internship program, which has allowed Nancy to gain real-world experience – and confirm her career direction. Her Field Period® opportunity in a second-grade classroom confirmed her desire to become a teacher. 

“I just loved what I was doing and they were just cute,” says Nancy. “I learned a lot about strategies ... how to teach the children.”  

Nancy is grateful for the chance to try out a potential career before graduating. Being in a second-grade classroom meant that she was learning first-hand what it means to be a teacher.

“I’m glad that Field Period® is here. Other schools don’t have that but Keuka College does,” says Nancy. “I would have been so undecided as to what to do and what to be. You learn hands-on, and get the strategies and methods, but how am I going to teach if I didn’t have that  experience?”

The desire to teach came naturally to Nancy, as she has been guiding her younger siblings with their homework through the years. 

In addition to her Field Period® experience, helping her siblings with their homework, Nancy taught English to adults whose first language is Spanish as part of her Spanish in the Community class. Working with Literacy Volunteers Ontario – Yates in Penn Yan, Nancy helped her adult students with comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing – even preparing for the U.S. Citizenship exam. 
This is among the Keuka College experiences Nancy credits for catapulting her toward her dreams of helping her family and being the first in her family to earn a college degree.

“I have benefited from Field Period® and the access to resources,” says Nancy.

“I learned about myself. That’s what Keuka College has done for me. I have had to go through certain challenges, and I wasn’t the best student in high school. Now, I’ve learned how to be responsible, and take stuff seriously, and it made me a better person. I felt like I have changed as a person from when I first came to Keuka College. I feel very proud of where I am now.”

Nancy Campuzano '24