on February 13, 2020
5 Questions for Massachusetts First Ones Champion Bob Giannino, CEO, uAspire
What does being a first-generation college graduate mean to you?
Being the first in my family to graduate college is a big point of pride and accomplishment for me and my family! This was an all-hands-on-deck effort—every member of my family supported me and made my getting to and through college possible. There's nothing I'm more proud of than getting my degree.
What impact did going to college or earning a degree have on your life?
It's hard to narrow down the impact into a few short sentences. It’s safe to say that my life would be so different if I didn't go to college. I've traveled the world, I've had many "once-in-a-lifetime" experiences, but, more important than anything, my son going to college was never in question.
What do you love about your job?
I feel incredibly blessed to do the work I do every day—to be in a position to support other young people's dreams, to work with deeply talented and dedicated professionals, in turn, helping to ensure that more and more people have access to the opportunities that I have had.
Tell us about someone whose support made a difference in your life, and how?
My freshman Dean, Keith Frome, who went on to co-found Peer Forward (formerly College Summit), a major college access and success organization. At my lowest point as a college student, Keith made sure that I knew that I belonged at Harvard and that I had what it took to persevere and succeed. I would have dropped our if it weren't for him!
What advice do you have for first-generation college students?
Don't be afraid to ask for help. It can be hard, particularly if you rarely had to ask for help in high school, to not feel shame when you need help in college but, there are SO MANY supports to make sure you succeed. So, when you need something or you don't know something, ask someone you know for help and keep asking until you find the help you need!