N’deye Ba is accustomed to achieving what many would consider the impossible. Originally from Senegal, Africa, her parents made tough decisions and sacrifices so that she and her siblings would have a better life than they did.
The agreeable alumna has taken that path one step further. N’deye, A&S ‘13, has the distinction of being the first student to graduate after living in the Gen-1 Theme House, located across Clifton Avenue from campus in Stratford Heights.
Since opening in 2008, the house has served more than 100 first-generation, Pell-grant-eligible students. Because those students are considered at high risk for dropping out, UC’s Gen-1 house provides a 24/7 structured living and learning environment plus support services, such as mentoring, tutoring, professional counseling and monitoring of academic performance and social activities.
When N’deye (pronounced Nay) was a young girl, her parents moved to the U.S. to pursue the dream of a better life for the family, while she and her younger siblings stayed behind with their grandparents in Africa. The reunited family eventually settled in Cincinnati when N’deye was 10 years old. Her first languages were French and Wolof, the native Senegal language, so she learned English while attending Cincinnati public schools.
Unfortunately, her route to college after high school seemed as confusing as her initial efforts to navigate a foreign land -- until she discovered UC’s Gen-1 house. “I had no idea what I was doing when I first got here, but the step-by-step process developed by the Gen-1 house helped me find who to talk with and where I needed to go,” she explains. “I even liked the curfew!”
Freshmen in the house must commit to earning a minimum GPA of 2.33 per academic semester and 2.50 GPA after completing their freshman year. Sophomores and juniors must commit to earning a 2.67 GPA per semester.
N’deye is using her education to pursue her dreams of heading a nonprofit organization. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in political science and international affairs in April. As she continues working on her master’s degree in political science at UC, she will serve as the resident graduate adviser for the Gen-1 house during the 2013-14 academic year.
“I really loved my UC experience. It was such a growing experience,” she says. “I have been able to do things that I never imagined I would be able to do, and I feel like I’ve really grown into a person that I’m proud of and that my family, especially my dad, can be proud of.
“For me, that’s the highlight, knowing that my family’s sacrifice did not go to waste.”
Donations and grants to the Gen-1 house support housing costs, meal plans and other services, such as N’deye’s service-learning trip to India last spring. She and her fellow students developed business models there for nonprofit organizations that rehabilitate women and girls rescued from the sex trade.
Gifts and contributions through 6/30/2013
Charitable contributions $ 507,526
Red Star Supporters — $5,001+
Black Star Support — $1,000-$5,000
White Star Supporters — up to $1,000