A Year of Firsts
Academics

A Year of Firsts

By Caitlyn Kirby 

Her dad dropped out in eighth grade. Her mom did the same her freshman year. Neither of her parents made it past the first year of high school, but for Alyssa Barton, her freshman year was one of positive change. 

More than 20 students in Delta’s 2022-2023 senior class will be first generation college students this fall.

A first generation college student is someone who does not have a parent or guardian who has received a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher.

Alyssa Barton will not only be a first generation college student, but also the first in her family to graduate high school. She will attend Ball State University to major in nursing with a minor in American Sign Language. 

For Alyssa, freshman year was filled with bad decisions followed by disciplinary actions put in place by administration. Now, nearing the end of her senior year, she has transformed into someone driven to make a future for herself.

Student with Charlie Cardinal
Alyssa Barton will attend Ball State University this fall to study nursing with a minor in American Sign Language. (Photo Provided)

Full Feature Story on Alyssa Barton: “Pressurized: A Story of Redemption”

“My parents being dropouts really motivated me to not necessarily do better than them but to finish what they couldn’t,” Alyssa says. 

Her parents have shared with her that without a college degree, it made finding a good-paying job much more complicated. Her father, Roy, is a maintenance worker for a factory in Anderson. Her mother, Andrea, works the front desk at Bill Gaddis Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram.

“If I do have kids down the line, I’m going to encourage them to go to college so that way they won’t have to go through what my previous family members did,” Alyssa says. 

Going into college, Alyssa is looking forward to clinicals and building bonds with people who have similar interests. At the same time, it can be scary going onto a campus where it feels like there is no one to ask for help. 

Mrs. Cindy Kunda, Director of Early College and Career Counseling, recognizes the anxiety that first generation students feel and advises them to use their resources. The administration office at a student’s college as well as counselors here at Delta are there to ensure each student is receiving adequate support. 

Kunda believes that because of the dual credit opportunities Delta offers, our students have a leg up in the college world. 

“Not every high school is set up the way we are so we are a great bridge for all students, particularly first generation, since we’ve been able to help them along the way with that process,” Kunda says. 

She says that colleges recently are doing a better job at wrapping around their first generation students and making sure that it is a personalized experience for everyone. That way the students feel like there are people on campus to help them form connections.

“When things seem like it’s impossible and it’s the hardest to reach out, I would want them to think back to when they were at Delta and they found success,” Kunda says. “They have inner strength and they can reach out and always get help.”

Senior Alisha Fields is another first generation college student. Her parents both spent a considerable amount of time overseas.  

Alisha’s mother, Heike, was born in Jettenbach, a small village in Germany where only one in three people go on to college. She now works at a call center. 

Her father, Ron, began going to Ball State University but later dropped out to go into the Air Force. After getting honorably discharged, her father stayed in Europe for the next 20 years. When Ron returned to the United States, he began working as a correctional officer for the Youth Opportunity Center in Yorktown. 

Like her father, Alisha plans to attend Ball State later this year to major in psychology. 

Alisha Fields stands in front of Ball State University entrance.
Alisha Fields will attend Ball State University this fall to major in psychology. (Photo Provided)

“Going to other college visits just wasn’t the same,” Alisha says. “I just love the whole community and the campus so much.”

She first found her interest in psychology while taking Ivy Tech Community College courses over the summer. Psychology is a flexible major with a multitude of different avenues, and Alisha is not sure which one she wants to take yet. She has considered possibilities such as market management and counseling.

Since her parents have not been through college themselves, it can be hard for them to assist her with college paperwork. Despite this, they are doing the best they can to support her with things they can help with such as deadlines.

“My parents really have no idea how to do all this crazy college paperwork, and without siblings I have no one I can directly ask or turn to if I have questions,” Alisha says. 

Dual credit opportunities that Delta offers have made college more appealing for Alisha. Finishing up high school, she has enough college credits to get the Indiana College Core (30 credit hour minimum), which means she will be entering college as a sophomore and saving more than $10,000. 

“It’s definitely weird because everyone in my family praises me so much for it, whereas to me I maybe don’t see it as such a big achievement,” Alisha says.

This coming fall, she plans to live in a dorm and enjoy the college campus experience. 

Similar to Alisha, senior Clay Batio has completed his first year of college at Delta. 

By taking dual credit I will be able to go into college as a sophomore and be ahead of the game, and it just makes college cheaper cause I don’t have to pay for my freshman year,” Clay says. 

He will attend Trine University in Angola, Ind., this fall to study Design Engineering Technology and continue his cross country and track & field career.

Student at Trine sign
Clay Batio will attend Trine University this fall to continue his academic, track & field, and cross country career. (Photo Provided)

His mother, Laura, works as a manager at LifeTime Skin Care Centers in Muncie. His father, Anthony, has a partner ownership of a plastering business called Mudpics LLC.

For Clay, a deciding factor on this college was their Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program. He says that this program will put him in a better position rather than just enlisting in the military. It gives him the opportunity to pick his job, travel, and use the benefits for his family. 

“I choose to do this because what better way to reach your goals and dreams than learning all you can,” Clay says. “It just gives me the opportunity to do what I want as a job rather than being stuck and having to accept something I don’t want to do.”

Moving into next school year, Clay will room with fellow senior Caleb Elliott. 

May 15, 2023

About Author

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caitlynkirby Caitlyn Kirby is a junior at Delta High School, and this is her second year in newspaper. She is planning on being a journalist in the future, so writing is one of her favorite hobbies. She plays tennis and does cheer at Delta. In her free time, she loves to drive around with no destination, scroll through Tiktok, or go to the gym.


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