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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Camrie Pipper: Once a First-Gen, always a First-Gen

Camrie+Pipper+poses+proud+in+her+First-Gen+Proud+alumni+shirt%2C+Friday%2C+Sept.+22%2C+2023%2C+at+Texas+State+University.
Brianna Chavez
Camrie Pipper poses proud in her First-Gen Proud alumni shirt, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Texas State University.

Texas State University has Camrie Pipper’s heart. From her freshman year in the fall of 2007 to now working on her doctoral studies, she found community and pride in being a first-generation Bobcat.

Pipper said she never saw herself getting this far into her education. Her English teacher in high school told her that higher education was no place for people like her. She took this as a challenge and went headfirst into her undergraduate degree in English.

“High school faculty and instructors really adopted a deficit-based mindset for first-generation or students of low socioeconomic status, which I was,” Pipper said. “It was almost a challenge.”

When Pipper walked onto the San Marcos campus in the late 2000s, there weren’t many resources for first-generation students like her. It wasn’t until fall of 2018 when a group of first-generation Bobcats created the First-Gen Proud initiative at Texas State, which brought awareness, recognition and additional support for first-generation students on and off campus.

Back when Pipper was an undergrad, it was the small communities that she sought on her own of students and professors who also had first-generation experiences that made a difference in her life at college.

One of the people who motivated Pipper to keep moving forward before first-generation resources were available was former DOIT Supervisor John Sisemore. After noticing Pipper coming to the lab to finish schoolwork and talk with her friends, Sisemore convinced her to become a part of the lab team.

“Seeing an employee that cares about what they’re doing and is willing to take the time to do it well, you kind of care about what they have going on,” Sisemore said. “And I did.”

Before he left his role as supervisor, Sisemore helped connect her with professional development to become a lab director. That role led her to become a media technician for DOIT.

“Looking back, I didn’t know how important that mentorship was,” Pipper said. “But it changed the career trajectory of my life. It was a community of support.”

Four years later and an English degree in hand, Pipper got the itch to be the first in her family to get a master’s degree. Her family was proud but didn’t quite understand the need to continue, insisting it was time to get to work.

“I wanted to be the first in my family to get a master’s [degree],” Pipper said. “And it was more difficult.”

Pipper passed the graduate readiness exam (GRE) well enough to be admitted to continue her education. However, she was taken back to that high school English class after a trip to a graduate adviser.

“That adviser told me that it was very unlikely that I would be successful in higher education,” Pipper said. “It drew me back to wondering why am I doing this? Am I good enough?”

Pipper battled imposter syndrome during her journey to receive her master’s degree. With inner and outer voices telling her she couldn’t, she would take trips back home to her family who reminded her she could.

 

Pipper focused on first-generation student success by collaborating with First-Gen Proud on marketing, mentoring and establishing the inaugural First-Gen Graduation Celebration, which will impact current and future Bobcats and their families.

University Police Officer Ashley Eicher, Pipper’s sister and Texas State alumna, said she gets goosebumps seeing the various resources and activities for first-generation students now compared to when she was a student in 2011. She is amazed to see her sister play a part in making a difference in the first-generation community at Texas State.

“She needs all the credit in that area, and I’m so proud of her,” Eicher said. It’s amazing to see and hear about all of her accomplishments.”

As Pipper is currently working on her doctorate in developmental education at the same campus she fell in love with in 2007, she can’t help but be proud of how far she has come.

“There were births. There were deaths. There were marriages. But I persisted,” Pipper said. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, find community.”

To learn more about Texas State’s First-Gen events, resources and more, visit https://firstgen.studentsuccess.txst.edu.

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