Missouri State University

Kyesha Wilson

  • Major: Sociology
  • Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Establishing a legacy

“My best was not quitting but finishing college and starting a new legacy in my family.” 

For first-generation college student Kyesha Wilson, the transition from high school in inner city St. Louis to Missouri State University in 2012 was tough.

She struggled in her first semester classes at MSU and almost dropped out.

“When I got to Missouri State, the level of difficulty and the amount of time I’d have to put into doing what people say were simple things were just way more than what I ever experienced in my past,” Wilson said. “No matter how hard I studied that first semester, it just didn’t work.”

After getting another D on her second test in her sociology class, she felt like giving up.

“I ran out of class to the bathroom and just cried and cried. I called my mom and told her, ‘Mom, I can’t do this. I’m trying hard and I don’t want to waste your money, my money. I need to come home,’” Wilson said.

Her mother said she would support Wilson’s decision if it were what she really wanted to do, but also told her, “You've been given this opportunity and you're in this place where people like you don't go. It's not the norm. If you come home, you’ll be upset at yourself and you’ll be upsetting a lot of people who have been cheering for you."

The turning point

“It helped just getting plugged in with people who know the type of thing you’re up against coming from where you’ve been.” 

Fortunately, a friend told her she could get help from TRIO Student Support Services on campus. She checked it out and things took a turn for the better.

She started attending workshops that taught her about effective study habits. She also took advantage of tutoring sessions and learned how to manage stress better.

Her grades improved and she regained confidence in herself. She ended her first semester of freshman year with a 3.7 GPA.

Once Wilson began to enjoy college life, she got more involved on campus. She founded His Legacy Ministries, a Christian student organization, and joined Sister Circle, a women’s empowerment group. She also took time to serve in the community.

Giving back

A sociology major, Wilson wants to use her degree and experience to help at-risk juveniles through either counseling or social work. Her internship with the Greene County Youth Academy, where she interacted with teens and guided them through their day, opened her eyes to the possibilities of this career path.

For Wilson, the journey toward getting a college degree was by no means easy. But she made it and she hopes her story inspires others who face similar situations.

“Luckily I had the support of family and friends – people who pushed me, uplifted me and wanted me to reach my personal best. My best was not quitting but finishing college and starting a new legacy in my family.”