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Coming in First

First-gen Longhorn Sydney Grisson reflects on her journey to the Forty Acres
Sydney Griffin UT student

Ever since elementary school, Sydney Grisson was determined to be the first in her family to attend college. In her mind, it was never even a question.

“I remember sitting in assemblies and listening to people talking about college, and it struck me that I really needed to do well in school so I could get on this path,”Grisson says. “It was never a maybe but always a certain.”

While attending Worthing High School in Sunnyside, Houston, she joined the Youth Engagement Center (YEC) to get all the resources she needed to get through the complicated college admissions process.

“At first, I felt very lost because I didn’t have anyone guiding me through this whole process, so this step-by-step help I received from the YEC really took a load off my shoulders,” Grisson says.

Grisson is especially grateful for her YEC advisors who helped her through a critical step in the college financing process.

“They were always available to help me through the FASFA process, which was tricky for me due to my family situation. “Ms. Lawrence was such a big help. She stuck with me through all the troubles, and it was just a comfort to know she was always there to help me out whenever I needed it.”

Now, a rising sophomore in the College of Natural Sciences, Grisson says she couldn’t be more proud to be a Longhorn.

“The first week at UT was stressful and exhilarating at the same time,” Grisson says. “I couldn’t be happier anywhere else. I love the atmosphere—it’s just so inviting and makes you proud to be here.”

After graduation, Grisson plans to pursue a career in occupational therapy. Until then, she plans to soak in every minute of college life on the Forty Acres.

“I feel confident that I can accomplish anything on my own,” Grisson says. “While I’m here, I’m going to make connections as much as possible and make the most out of my experience at UT. I’m just really enjoying my time here, and I feel like I’ve already made it.”

YEC group shot UT Tower
More about the Youth Engagement Center

Serving in high schools in five major Texas cities, the Youth Engagement Center works to prepare historically underserved students for success in college and beyond. Offerings include group and one-on-one advising, application guidance, college tours, professional development workshops, community service opportunities and more. The YEC is housed within the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement’s Longhorn Center for School Partnerships.