First generation college graduate defeats housing and mental health issues to walk across stage

Sociology student Abigale Brown will graduate this Saturday with over 600 undergraduates at Morgan State University.


Courtesy of Abigale Brown

Abigale Brown, graduating sociology major, will graduate this Saturday with over 600 undergraduates at Morgan State University.

Thalya Baptiste, Staff Writer

Graduating from college is no small feat. Many students struggle to obtain financial aid, maintain their grades, and manage their mental health throughout their matriculation.

Since the return to campus from the COVID-19 pandemic, many students struggled with mental health especially. 

However, Abigale Brown overcame the trials that come with being a college student and made it to graduation. 

On Saturday, Brown will walk across the stage as a first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Brown joins 609 undergraduates to receive degrees this Saturday.

During her time at Morgan, Brown faced many obstacles regarding mental health, housing and financial stability issues.

“When I came to Morgan, like when we were back on campus, it was really hard getting there. I kind of started off my semester in a hotel, and just trying to look for a job, and basically just trying to find a roof over my head and start the semester off properly,” Brown said. 

While the Jamaica native struggled to find somewhere to permanently live, she fought to maintain her standing at Morgan and appear as a normal student. However, outside obstacles constantly worked against her. 

Brown recalls struggling to make it to campus every day because her vehicle was in bad condition. On top of that, she lived at the Red Roof Inn hotel for a brief period of her senior year before moving in with a friend nearby on campus. 

One of her biggest obstacles was the lack of internet in her hotel room. Luckily, Morgan assisted Brown by providing her with a laptop and a hotspot box so she could have internet access at home. 

Brown said, “I was just trying to get internet. That was my main focus because I don’t have any wi-fi at home and I can’t keep using my phone. So, instead of asking for money that semester, I asked for a laptop and a hotspot box.”  

Securing internet access was one thing, but the challenge of juggling her mental health, transportation and housing issues still stood in her way of graduation. 

Brown said, “A lot of times, I would get professors that would tell me ‘time management, time management, time management,’ but it’s more like I gotta time manage my emotions and that hurt, but it is what it is.” 

Luckily Brown had supportive professors that understood her circumstances. Despite her daily challenges, Angela Howell, interim chair of the department of sociology, said Brown stood out in the classroom through her hard work and participation in class. 

Howell said, “As a student, Abigale is intellectually curious and academically engaged. She asks the most amazing questions that go far beyond the parameters of any one assignment. I will always remember the conversations that we had in my office.”

Even with everything that happened in her personal life, Brown was still able to immerse herself in campus life, make friends, and stay involved in student organizations. Brown adds, “I kind of forced myself to do it because I needed to feel like something normal was happening in my life.”

Brown was a part of Young Life, a bible study organization on campus.

After satisfying her degree requirements and graduating, Brown will take a year off of school to maintain financial stability and then apply to law school in 2023. 

In light of the obstacles Brown overcame to walk across the stage, she learned a lot from her experiences that she is able to share with younger students at Morgan. 

Brown said, “Honestly, keep going. If your time isn’t now, it’s going to be one day. Just understand that as long as you get to what you see as success, you’re going to be okay.” 

Brown will join over 900 undergraduate and graduate students that will be recognized for their matriculation at Morgan this weekend.