Humans of UK: Angie Airth gains new experiences as a first-generation student


Samuel Colmar

Angela Airth, a freshman merchandising, apparels and textiles major, poses for a photo on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the Gatton Student Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

Nia Chancellor, Reporter

Angie Airth, a freshman merchandising, apparel & textiles student at the University of Kentucky, is preparing to embark on a summer study abroad trip to London.

A first-generation college student, Airth is one of 60 students accepted into a study abroad program, which is being made possible through UK’s new First-Generation Career Readiness Education Abroad program. 

Anticipating the journey ahead of her this July, Airth looked back on the time leading up to the beginning of her collegiate experience and said her freshman year at UK was preceded by mixed feelings of anxiousness and excitement.

Airth attributed these feelings to being the first person in her family to attend college.

“My parents didn’t really know what to do, so they were kind of learning with me,” she said. “UK was a really good guide; they would send emails step-by-step on everything I had to do (as a first-generation student). I felt more prepared because of them.”

Airth stressed the importance family has in her life and how going to college was a big step for her to branch outside of her bubble. 

“My parents are always supportive of everything I do,” she said.

In her free time, Airth enjoys thrifting and modeling, the latter of which she’s been able to pursue since coming to UK. In high school, she was a majorette, and she said she’s been practicing in hopes of auditioning for the UK team next year. 

For Airth, much of the significance of being a first-generation student comes from setting an example for her siblings.

“I feel like it helps me set a good example for my younger sisters, not that going to college is that big of a deal, but if I follow my dreams, I feel like they’re gonna want to do the same,” she said.

UK’s new First-Generation Career Readiness Education Abroad program affords students who may not have had the opportunity before to travel abroad, according to Niamh Minion, the acting director of the university’s Education Abroad and Exchanges Office.

Minion said the goal of the program is to prepare students like Airth to feel ready and comfortable when expanding their skills and experience within their career paths.

Airth also noted how this new opportunity will allow her to obtain the real-world experience she needs to branch out into her career.

“I really feel like it would be beneficial to the career I want to do, and UK will give me a better chance to learn more about that and having real life experiences,” she said.

Beyond that, Airth said she’s excited to use the opportunity to reach beyond her own “bubble,” having minimal travel experience. 

“I just want to be able to experience more than what I’m used to right now in the United States, and I just want to see how different it is because I’ve never left the country before,” she said.