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PANpov: Navigating Independence as a First-Gen Student

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Becca WilliamsAccount Executive

This piece is part of our PANpov series — firsthand stories from employees about unique experiences they bring to integrated marketing, PR and communications. Read more. 

When I first set my sights on attending university, I knew that moving from a small seaside village in Cornwall to the hustle and bustle of London would be a stark contrast.  

My family had concerns, naturally. Being not only the youngest of three brothers and three sisters, but also the first to pursue this path of higher education, they were uneasy about whether London was the right decision and if I should choose a university closer to them for support.  

I felt the pressure to succeed, not only to prove to myself this path was correct but to also ease their worries. 

To 17-year-old me, this was ultimately the most important decision I ever had to make. Although, having the support of a close relative who had lived this experience themselves would’ve given me more to prepare with, there are certain lessons you learn from paths walked alone. 

I had to learn how to rely on my own guidance, be resilient, manage my inner doubts and best prepare myself to essentially grow my own future.  

The friends I made within my first couple of weeks of university became my pillars throughout all three years. I learned that independence doesn’t mean doing everything on your own. Instead, it’s about recognising the support systems available to you. 

I’m glad I took that step into the unknown. Having the opportunity to discover a city, to fall in love with it, and now to have made it my home is something I’m still in awe of. These lessons have developed me into the person I am today, working towards a career that I love and one that pushes my creativity above and beyond what I ever thought would be possible.  

If there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this, whether you’re the first one to step into higher education or even if you’ve embarked on a new chapter in your life alone, take a step back to reflect on the journey that has led you to today and have a toast, to you. 

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An image of PAN's Brand Experience Report on the Potentials and pitfalls of AI for marketers

In our annual Brand Experience Report, we asked marketers and customers how they are using and experiencing AI to better understand how the technology is changing that relationship.