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Meet First-Generation Grad Student, Baley Wells

Q&A with First-Generation
OU Student Baley Wells

Baley Wells | Locust Grove, OK
Sociology with a focus on criminology, Class of 2021
Library and Information Science with a certificate in Digital Humanities, Class of 2023

“Being a first-generation student has taught me to value education and to encourage other people in my family to apply for and attend college. I would not be who I am or where I am today if I had not decided to attend OU.”

As a third-grader, now grad student Baley Wells made a decision that would bring her closer to her life goals: she would be the first person from her family to earn a bachelor’s degree. In high school, Wells spent most of her time in her rural hometown and only visited metropolitan areas for class trips. That’s why the University of Oklahoma ­stuck out to her – while Norman had a close-knit community, coffee shops on every corner, and entertainment on and off campus, nearby Oklahoma City offered her a side of life she had never experienced before.

During her undergrad, Wells worked on-campus at OU’s Library Service Center, which helped her discover she had a passion for public libraries and accessibility to education. When there was an opening for a full-time staff position as manager, Wells jumped on the opportunity and became manager of the Library Service Center.

Q: What did your undergrad degree from OU mean to you, and what will your graduate degree from the OU School of Library and Information Science mean?
 My undergraduate degree was a stepping stone for me. I always knew that I would one day get my master’s degree and would eventually love to get my doctorate degree in sociology. Knowing that I was the first person in my entire family to attend and complete college brings me a lot of joy but also a lot of sadness. I wish circumstances had been different for my family, but at least I am showing them, particularly my younger siblings, that they can do it.

Q: What is one of your best memories from your years as an undergrad at OU?
Baley: On move-in day, I stuck a post-it note to my room door inviting people to knock and visit with me. In 20 minutes or so, I got a knock and met two of my closest friends in undergrad. Another time was when it snowed on campus for the first time my freshman year, classes were canceled, and we were free to go explore campus and get hot chocolate.

Q: For students who are looking for a job on campus, what would you recommend they do? Any tips and tricks?
The first step is to create a solid resume. Even if you have not ever had a job before, show employers that you have experience volunteering. At OU, you can schedule an appointment at Career Services and they’ll review your resume. As a hiring manager, one of the most common mistakes that I see when people apply for jobs is not following the instructions, like not submitting a copy of your class schedule when the listing specifically asks for it. Pay attention to the tedious requests and always send a follow-up email when you are done with an interview. There are tons of people that are applying for the same job, so try to make yourself stand out as best as you can.

Q: What on-campus resources helped you while you were an undergrad?
Baley: Action Tutoring
was my saving grace, as well as office hours and exam reviews conducted by professors for specific classes. I took “Intro to the Study of Dinosaurs” with Dr. Richard Ciffeli and was failing the course. I went to an exam review with Dr. Ciffeli and he walked me through each problem and helped me understand where I was making mistakes and the areas in which I needed improvement. Build solid connections with your professors and their teaching assistants, because in the end, they are there to help you succeed!


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