First Generation Student: Kyle Brodnick
Kyle Brodnick is a first-generation college student who returned to college following military service. A Political Science major at Governors State University, he dreams of one day running for political office.
Here's Brodnick’s journey and advice to others who want to go to college:
“After high school, I went to college but soon dropped out due to lack of direction. I served six years in the U.S. Army and returned to civilian life before enrolling in college at age 27. I still didn’t know what I wanted but I knew what I didn’t want. Within two years, I went through three or four jobs. A few of them paid well and had great benefits, but none of them were exactly what I wanted. To me, they seemed to be dead-end jobs with little chance for advancement.
When I returned to school after the Army, I was placed on academic and financial probation—I had to prove myself to the college by passing classes over two semesters and pay out of pocket before I could apply again for financial aid. This was a challenging course to follow, but I stuck with it.
At first, I thought I would major in mechanical engineering. But after meeting a political science professor who encouraged me to come to one of his presentations, I was hooked on politics. I had never voted before and didn’t follow politics, but once I got a taste of it, that was all it took.
I have taken my passion for politics beyond the classroom and put it to use by working for my state Rep. Anthony DeLuca, Sen. Toi Hutchinson, and recently as a field organizer for the J.B. Pritzker gubernatorial campaign.
Also, in pursuing policy outside of the classroom, I had the opportunity to meet Bill Gates, and discuss higher education funding at the federal level. Governors State University has provided me with endless opportunities thus far, and can do so for others as well.
I’ve enjoyed being with other students who have direction. The people I’ve met have been friendly and encouraging. The professors in the political science department are amazing and have a good grasp on international politics. It’s been a fantastic experience.
Both of my parents have been supportive of this journey, though neither went to college. My dad owns a construction business and, naturally, he wanted me to take over. He paused when I told him and my mom I wanted to go to college, but he also saw I needed to find my own path. Hopefully, that will lead me back to the family business one day.
To other first generation students, I would encourage them to step out of their comfort zone to make room for greater things to happen."