Bellarmine News

First-Gen College Student Driven to Succeed

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Alisha Ginsberg ’17 always knew she wanted to go to college, but her parents were not convinced. “We just couldn’t afford it,” she says, “but I knew this was what I wanted.”

Originally from Visalia, Calif., Ginsberg had held part-time jobs since the age of 12. Once she made the decision to go to college, she even briefly competed with Miss America to save money for school.

When she arrived at LMU, she declared a psychology major and later added a minor in philosophy. Ginsberg fell in love with the social justice mission, intimate class sizes, and dedicated professors.

Her sophomore year, Ginsberg joined the competitive Student Worker Program, which offers housing and a significant financial aid award to 24 students who work in pre-professional positions on campus.

Now a junior, Ginsberg is a recent recipient of the Laura DeMyer Williamson ’74 endowed scholarship, which supports determined BCLA undergraduate students who seek to realize their full potential at LMU. Established in honor of a passionate advocate of the liberal arts, Laura DeMyer Williamson was a long-time member of both the BCLA Advisory Board and LMU’s Board of Trustees.

Unfortunately, Ginsberg needed additional support this year more than she could have known. On a routine visit at the LMU Health Center in the fall, her doctor found a tumor in Ginsberg’s thyroid and she was soon diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

“I seriously almost dropped out of school, but all of my professors in the psychology department stepped up and encouraged me to keep going,” Ginsberg said.

Ginsberg had thyroid surgery during Thanksgiving break and radiation treatment during winter break. With the help of her faculty mentors and some emotional support from Student Psychological Services, she has stayed in school throughout her treatment.

Ginsberg’s passion for psychology and therapy has led to a strong interest in child development. “I love working with kids,” she said. “I don’t know if I want to be a teacher or psychologist.”

This summer, Ginsberg hopes to participate in LMU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program or a study abroad program. After graduation, Ginsberg is interested in working toward her master’s degree in Education and applying for Teach for America.

“Through all this, I’ve learned that hard work does pay off,” Ginsberg said. “I fall deeper and deeper in love with LMU every day for everything they’ve done for me.”