First-generation college student hopes to help family with degree

    Olivia Ginn hopes to become a clinical psychologist.

    Posted on Nov. 26, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 26, 2013 at 10:32 a.m.

    GOSHEN — When Olivia Ginn, 19, graduates from Goshen College she will be the first in her family to have finished a college degree. Ginn said that going to college was always her plan, even though her parents did not graduate from college.

    “It was explained to me growing up that college is like the new high school and grad school is like the new college,” Ginn said. “It was always assumed that I would go to college.”

    Ginn hopes to become a clinical psychologist and communicate with deaf patients using American Sign Language. But ultimately she wants to use her career to support two of her siblings who have special needs.

    Her brother, Nate, 5, and sister, Claire, 17, will probably always need a little help, Ginn said.

    “I want to have the resources to provide for them,” Ginn said.

    Ginn and some of her siblings were adopted from South Korea, and her parents cared for more than 40 foster children during her childhood. Several of those foster children had severe special needs, and Ginn said the time she spent with them helped her realize that she wants to help people.

    “It’s definitely helped me with patience,” Ginn said laughing.

    Ginn’s family lives in Noblesville, and she sees them rarely since she sometimes stays at school to work over breaks.

    “It’s hard but it makes it that much better when I do see them,” Ginn said smiling.

    Ginn said she’s learned a few things in her first year of college that she didn’t expect. She’s proud to be financially independent for the first time, but admits that it’s sometimes hard to spend money responsibly.

    She’s paying for college on her own, although she added that she’s grateful to have received several scholarships.

    She’s also learned to adjust to people with different beliefs. Ginn does not come from a Mennonite background like some Goshen College students.

    “It’s not completely different,” Ginn said of her beliefs. “There are definitely connections, but there are disconnections too.”

    She would advise high school students to head into their first year of college with an open mind about what they might learn from the experience.

    Ginn added that the main thing she’s learned is to “do what you love.”

    In her freshman year, she struggled to outperform her classmates, thinking that if she was the best, her family would be proud of her. But this year, she said, she knows how to study more effectively and is focusing on learning more about her passion, psychology.

    Ginn was one of just 31 Indiana students to receive a ”Realizing the Dream” scholarship from the Independent Colleges of Indiana earlier this year. She was chosen by Goshen College for her outstanding achievement in her first year of school.

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