Ginger Pace has always sought to set an example for her family that hard work pays off. After receiving her GED, she enrolled at Texas’ College of the Mainland (COM) in 2017, becoming the first generation in her family to attend college. Pace’s journey at COM culminated last month when she graduated with an associate of arts in general studies.
For the wife and mother of three, that accomplishment did not come easy. The past three years have been nothing short of a balancing act of managing academic studies with family commitments, responsibilities as an officer in Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and volunteer work in the community. But as a first-generation college student, she always knew that her journey, albeit untraditional, would lay an important foundation for her entire family.
“At first it was a little hard,” Pace explained. “I’m not your typical straight-out-of-high-school college student. But I finally decided that it was time for me to go to college. Growing up in a home that wasn’t educated, this is something that I felt that I needed to do in order to be successful for my family.”
Supports to succeed
After finding support from COM’s learning community and student support resources, Pace found the perfect balance between her personal, school and extracurricular obligations.
“Between family, volunteering and school, time budgeting is important,” she said. “Being in the position I am right now, COM has given me every opportunity to finish my dream and know that my goal is attainable.”
Through her involvement in Phi Theta Kappa, tutoring center and TRIO program, which offers supplementary support for first-generation college students navigating through their transition, Pace soon found a much-needed network of support within the COM family. Those resources helped her to stay on track and remain focused on reaching her end goal.
“As a student here at College of the Mainland, it was easier when I found all the resources,” she said. “I didn’t feel alone. I wasn’t here by myself. With all the involvement and all the help, it helped me to succeed and excel to where I’m at now.”
Pace now plans to transfer this spring to the University of Houston-Clear Lake to pursue a bachelor of science in legal studies. Ultimately, she plans to pursue a career as a family law attorney where she can put her passion to work.
A role model
Pace’s drive and passion are infectious. After seeing her successful experience at the college, her son, Roger, was inspired to follow in her footsteps and enroll at COM. A 2020 Texas City High School graduate, Roger has just finished his first semester at the college. After completing his associate degree, he plans to transfer to Texas A&M University at Galveston to study marine sciences.
“As her son, I am very proud to see her reach this point,” Roger said. “It has made me very proud and has really inspired me to work hard and be like her.”
While hard work has always come naturally for Pace, that strong work ethic now has new meaning as she reflects on how her experiences at COM have helped shape the next generation of scholars in her own family.
“Having three kids, I wanted them to see that their mother was successful in college,” she said. “And I wanted to be an example for them.”