First Generation Student: Nekia Driver
Nekia Driver likes to reflect on the words of actress Stella Adler: “The play is not in the words, it’s in you.” Driver, a Theatre and Performance Studies major and student athlete at Governors State University, says Adler’s quote inspires her on stage. Meanwhile, the first-generation college student is inspiring others in real life.
Driver discusses her journey at Governors State with us:
“That quote, from actress Stella Adler, is something I have applied to my life. Anything that I do—whether it’s acting, studying or working with youth—comes from within. Her quote is something I take don’t take lightly because it has helped me realize that anything I do is not based on a script, but it’s what comes from my heart.
When I started doing theater in high school, I knew I wanted to continue down this path because I fell in love with inspiring people so much that I decided to be the first in my family to pursue a college degree. What I didn’t realize, was the impact I would have not just on my own younger siblings but on some of the youth I work with at my church.
I keep in touch with my little brother and sister to see how they’re doing, and they do the same for me. We have conversations about studying and school a lot, and at church the students that I work with talk to me about school as well. They tell they want to go to college because I am in college. When I see how much of an impact I have on them and how open they are with me, it blows my mind every time.
My mom never went to college. Throughout my college career she has reminded me how proud she is of me. When things get tough, she tells me to stay motivated because she wants better for me.
When I first arrived to Governors State University, I had this vision that college would be the best years of my life. And while it really has been, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some challenges. I have had to learn how to balance social activities and clubs with classes and study time.
A strong support system on campus has helped me throughout my four years. I’ve learned to ask for help when I need it, and I’ve been blessed to find some wonderful mentors and friends who have helped me stay focused on what’s important.
While balancing my classes, I’ve become the voice of GSU—working as an anchor on our weekly news program, serving as color commentator for sports events and doing voiceovers for promotional videos. I have joined the Transformation Gospel Choir, became a dual athlete in cross country and golf, joined the GSU Dance Company and worked as an orientation leader and box office assistant. I continue to be in various plays and productions through the GSU Center for Performing Arts.
Thanks to God, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had, the professors who have influenced me, the various productions I’ve been a part of and for the people I have met along the way. Governors State has helped shape me and my future."