Humphrey School News

First-Generation Student Leoma Van Dort

November 8, 2017—The University of Minnesota is joining other colleges around the country November 8 to celebrate first-generation students, staff, and faculty. The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is proud to share the stories of some of our first-generation students. 

Leoma Van Dort, MURP '19
Hometown: Kandy, Sri Lanka
Bachelor's degree, English; Master's degree, Social Responsibility

I am working toward my second master's degree at the Humphrey School, and feel blessed to be here among many other first-generation college students like me. Although I was the first in my family to attend college, I was certainly not the first to take a keen interest in learning. My parents have always valued education, and have worked hard and made sacrifices so that my sister and I can have a quality education. They instilled in me a love of reading and learning at a very young age, encouraged me to work hard, and guided me in the right direction so that I could get a college degree. Their unwavering support is what helps me navigate difficult situations and push forward with faith and confidence in myself, even today.

What does it mean for you to be able to attend college? Attending college has opened invaluable opportunities for me, including the opportunity to pursue graduate degrees in the United States. Apart from the knowledge and skills I gained as a student, the college experience also brought me closer to people who are committed to making a difference in other people’s lives. Without my college degree, I would not have built my academic and professional goals around addressing equity in urban planning and policy.

Why did you choose the Humphrey School? I decided to attend the Humphrey School because it offers one of the best professional planning programs in the country and treats its diverse learning community as an asset. I am also grateful for the Humphrey Scholarship that is funding my education, and for all the unique academic and professional development opportunities my degree has offered me thus far. 

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