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Kianna Stiffler

You're not in this alone. We all know how intimidating and scary it may be, but lean on the people around you. Whether it be your friends, family, professors, bosses, mentors, or others, there are so many people willing to be that boost of encouragement when you need it. You can do it!

Advice for the Class of 2024

Kianna

What does being a First-Generation College Graduate mean to you?

It means perseverance, strength, & an immense amount of resiliency that not only I, but my entire family possesses. Their biggest hopes and dreams were put into hours working tirelessly, whether that be moving state to state as a migrant farm worker or long 12 hour shifts in a factory. My family worked hard my entire life (and lifetimes before me) in hopes that they could provide me the education they couldn't even dream of, and to me that's a gift I'll spend the rest of my life attempting to repay them for.

Are there any Clubs, Activities, or Involvements that you were a part of at Ithaca College?

Thank you to HiFashion Studios who took a chance on a science nerd with a passion for makeup. I always had a creative outlet with this club, and I cant wait to be in the crowd watching the fashion shows as time goes on.

Ithaca Experiences

What is your proudest moment from your time at Ithaca College?

When I first got to Ithaca College, I felt an immense amount of imposter syndrome. I met people with opportunities that someone from a small town like me didn't even know existed. This was the only school I applied to and if I didn't get in I told myself I'd figure it out after the fact. I thought it was mind-boggling that someone like me was in a place like Ithaca College. I felt like I didn't belong here and/or like it was a mistake that I was let in. It wasn't until one of my professors was discussing the imposter syndrome many first-generation college students have when I finally was able to put my feelings into words. Then, they said no matter how many more opportunities someone had than you, we all ended up in the same place and you all deserve to be here. That was the first time I realized minus the set-backs, the lack of opportunities, and countless other circumstances, I ended up making it here and that was something I will always be proud of.

Kianna

Who are the family members, friends or loved ones who have been most influential throughout your college journey? Are there any words of gratitude you would like to share with them?

To my wonderful, crazy, lack of inside voice, always entertaining family: I love you all so much. Without all of your support, I couldn't imagine myself in this position today. To my mom, it's always just been you and I taking on the world. Thank you for growing with me, being my role model, and being my best friend. Your strength is indescribable and without your constant encouragement and love this wouldn't be half as sweet. To my hometown best friends, we all have grown and changed but one thing that has never wavered is our bond and support for one another. Thank you for always being there for me through the blood and tears of undergrad, the joyful moments, and (without knowing it) always reminding me where I came from. I've never met such selfless people and I love you so much. To my college best friends, thank you for giving me the best four year sleep over I could've asked for. Thank you for all the laughs, hugs, and late nights. Before I met all of you I had one idea of what the world looked like, and you all (without knowing) opened my mind to so many other experiences. I love you all. To Em, thank you for pushing me day after day to be the best me I can be. You never fail to get me to see the light at the end of the tunnel, & I love you for that.

Ithaca Experiences

Who are the staff, faculty or mentors who have been most influential throughout your college journey? Are there any words of gratitude you would like to share with them?

Thank you to all of the amazing professors I've had the pleasure of meeting and coming into contact with. Thank you all for answering my late-night emails full of questions from a nervous college kid when the questions weren't that important anyway. I'll appreciate your encouragement and patience always. Thank you to Dr. Cherry. At our PT pinning ceremony, I sat at your table as you spoke about imposter syndrome and even provided your own personal experiences with it. Even during classes you taught, you'd never fail to tell our class personal stories about bumps in the road you had to becoming a fantastic PT. I never got around to telling you this, but thank you for reminding us you were once in our shoes too. Thank you for reminding us we cant just wake up one day knowing everything there is to know about PT. Thank you for making me and many other students not feel alone in our fight to figure out what adulting is. We all appreciate it. To Gina White & Kellie Mooney, thank you for all of the patience, encouragement, and kind gestures you've provided me that a boss doesn't have to. Thank you for guiding me through how to make phone transfers even though I've asked too many times to count. Thank you for always teaching me, encouraging me, and making me (and many other student workers) feel seen. You truly go above and beyond to make all of us student workers feel important and special and I appreciate it so much. I could've have asked for better people to work for.

What do you plan or hope to do now that you have graduated?

Now, I will be attending Ithaca College to continue my education and receive my Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree in August 2022. I can't wait for even more wonderful and memorable experiences at this place.