First-generation Texas Tech student dives headfirst into the college experience.
Dreams are not the same as goals.
Dreams are desires, emotions, thoughts and images that rattle around in our cerebral cortex.
Goals are tangible – a road map to achievement both long and short term.
For first-generation student Nicholas Morris, the opportunity to make the conversion from dreams to goals became a reality at Texas Tech University.
“I knew it would be necessary for me to go to college if I wanted to pursue my dreams,” Morris said. “I am proud and excited to be a part of Texas Tech because I truly believe in and have experienced what it means to be a part of the Red Raider family.”
The Waller, Texas native spent a good deal of his youth around the Houston area with his parents and older sister, always dreaming of his future possibilities.
“Neither of my parents went to college because my mom pursued her dreams of becoming a flight attendant and my dad chose to join the Marines and serve our nation for eight years.”
Morris is part of a trend at Texas Tech. In the last decade, the number of first-generation students has doubled. Jamie Hansard, the university's vice president of Enrollment Management said the process of recruiting a first-generation student must begin with a personal experience.
“Students and parents today are consumers just like you and me,” Hansard explained. “We live in a time when we expect retailers or anyone we engage with to know what we like and what we don't like. The information we see from them should be relevant to who we are.”
To provide prospective students with a personalized experience, Hansard emphasizes the importance of sharing what life as a first-generation college student looks like at Texas Tech – an experience that's paramount to continuing to grow the next generation of Red Raiders.
“One of the most important things we've done over the last few years has been to identify first-generation students as early as possible and communicate accordingly about the many support services that are available to them,” Hansard said. “These support services are critical in retention and ultimately graduation among these students.”
For Morris, focusing on goals versus dreams was a daunting task, as it is for anyone making a significant life decision. He had the ambitious dream of attending law school. This led him to apply for and tour several different schools, but none of them spoke to him with the end goal in mind.
“One day, I came home from school and my mom presented me with a letter I received from Texas Tech's Honors College, inviting me to a showcase coming to Houston,” Morris said. “I spoke with my parents and we agreed I had nothing to lose from simply checking it out. From the moment my family and I walked into the showcase, we felt as if we were part of the Red Raider family and uniquely wanted as a part of Texas Tech.”
What followed was a tour of the campus and an opportunity to meet people who will play a role in the first-year student's development while in Lubbock.
“I have been able to thrive here at Texas Tech because of the second family I have found on campus as well as the bounty of resources offered to me as a first-generation student through mentoring and events,” Morris said.
He is majoring in honors sciences and humanities with a pre-law focus while minoring in Arabic. He also is deeply involved in various organizations on campus. Morris is president of the Arabic language student organization, a referee for sports at the Robert H. Ewalt Student Recreation Center, a member of the Center for Transformative Undergraduate Experiences (TrUE), and a member of Future Lawyers of Today.
Morris has also fully embraced his role in the Lubbock community, serving as a mentor for a local elementary school and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and the South Plains Food Bank.
“Through programs like the Prestigious External Student Awards, I hope to pursue becoming a Rhodes Scholar and participating in the Fulbright Program,” Morris said. “I aspire to become the president of President's Select, create a student organization highlighting mental health for students, and become Student Government president for the university.”
It seems rather fitting one of Morris' favorite authors is Roy T. Bennett, who wrote “The Light in the Heart,” a book that focuses on sharing positive thoughts and creative insights to help others live successful lives.
And Morris' favorite quote from this book? That would be: “Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone's life. Be the light that helps others see.”
“Although many will say I may be overly ambitious, I believe anything is possible with hard work, a desire to make a difference, and a lifestyle of humility,” Morris said.