Kylie Lucent ’21, an admissions counselor at Newman University, has not been dealt an easy hand. She is a first-generation college graduate who has had to work extremely hard to get to where she is, both in her career and life.
“I am the oldest of four children and the glue that holds my family together,” Lucent said.
In high school, Lucent couldn’t go to her parents when it came to questions about college. Instead, she turned to her teachers and support staff at Wichita North High School for guidance on what steps to take.
“One specific staff member took me under her wing during my sophomore year and never let me go. She supported me through the hard days, high school events, soccer games and even filling out college applications. If it wasn’t for teachers and staff like her that picked me up and brushed me off, I wouldn’t be here to tell my story,” said Lucent.
Being the oldest sister, Lucent had to grow up extremely fast. One thing that has never changed for her is that her siblings will always come first.
“We have gone through some things I would never wish on my worst enemy, but for that I am grateful. Though the odds were against us, we came out of those situations stronger and ready for anything,” Lucent said with pride.
Lucent attended Newman on an academic scholarship. Because she had to work throughout high school, it limited her scholarship opportunities. Even while she lived on campus she wasn’t involved in much, regrettably so, due to having to work so much. At one point she was working two full-time jobs while taking 18 credit hours. At the end of the day, someone had to pay the bills and unfortunately in her case, that was Lucent.
“Being surrounded by all the things you don’t want and things that scare you, it really opens your eyes to the things you do want and the things that make you feel safe. So I guess I continue to work hard so that if something happens, I can handle it. I can have the answers, money, or other resources that my siblings or grandma may need,” Lucent said.
“I learned that no matter who you are, where you come from or what you have, it doesn’t mean or symbolize anything. What means something is way deeper inside of each of us. It’s how we approach each other, it’s how we support and protect each other. The brain can be taught and trained but it doesn’t mean anything unless the heart is taught and trained first,” said Lucent.
More than an education
One of Lucent’s biggest takeaways from her time at Newman has nothing to do with textbooks or academics but with what she learned outside of the classroom. She came onto campus scared and not sure if college was even the right path for her. She graduated knowing she made the right decision by staying.
“Newman’s community does something different with healing souls like mine. This community has given me resources and knowledge that I didn’t know I was needing outside of academics,” said Lucent.
“My role as an admission counselor at Newman will allow me the opportunity to work one on one with first generation students. Of course, my main objective is to give back by connecting personally with every student I encounter, but the first generation students will hold a special place in my heart,” said Lucent.
Angie McCoy, assistant dean and MBA program director, and Teresa Wilkerson, director of adult and professional studies, were Lucent’s go-to professors for everything while she was on campus. She went into McCoy’s office one day ready to give up on college altogether and Wilkerson happened to be in the office. Those two professors knew what to say and how to help from the moment Lucent walked in the door.
“I don’t think they knew how much they meant to me, of course, they barely knew about what was going on in my personal life, but they saved me that day. They didn’t just save my college journey but my life journey too,” says Lucent.
Every semester for her in-person classes, McCoy requires that her students meet with her individually in her office. The point of this has two important purposes. The first is to get to know them and the second is for the student to get familiar with her and where her office is. McCoy ends every meeting by telling the students that her door is always open. For students like Lucent, this provides support well beyond the classroom.
“Part of our jobs as advisors is to help students realize their full potential and Kylie has a lot of it,” McCoy said. “I am delighted to see that Kylie returned to Newman for employment. The perspective that she had while she was a Newman student will serve her greatly in this role.”
Wilkerson emphasized that Lucent’s development as a student is a “great example of what we do at Newman.”
“When we say Newman is student-centered, we truly are,” Wilkerson said. “Building a relationship, getting to know the student and understanding their needs from their perspective is the key.”
“Our world is filled with fast decisions, quick reactions and a lack of understanding each other,” Wilkerson continued. “When we take time, I mean really take time, to listen and encourage those in need, God has a way of taking the reins and wonderful, life-changing things can happen such as with Kylie. And that’s the Newman difference.”
When asked about her potential dream job, Lucent said that it’s a complicated answer. She is just exploring the opportunities for now because she knows that she is meant to do something great.
“Coming from my background, I am still trying to just be proud of myself for making it this far,” said Lucent.
While working a few sales positions after graduation, she started to feel like her inner flame was starting to dim and that she was craving more than just a job. She wanted to fulfill a passion and help other people which led her back to Newman.
“In this role as an admissions counselor, I will be able to be an advocate, a resource and a cheerleader for the students for the students when it comes to making their next big move,” said Lucent.
“I am so grateful to be back,” Lucent said with a smile.
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A student’s path to finding a degree that fits his or her needs and aspirations can seem like a daunting endeavor. Newman University’s student-success program, Navigator, is built to empower students to shape their future and their impact on the world around them.