Trea Morgan-White said after four years at Penn State, he wasn’t sure he was going to finish his degree in digital and print journalism from the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Morgan-White was looking at another year of school, and for his family, that meant financial hardship.

But he would be the first person in his family to earn his bachelor’s degree, and the thought of being a first-generation college graduate helped to spur him on. He also credited his extracurricular activities and resources for helping to get him to graduation.

“I thought, I’m almost there, I’m almost to the finish line,” Morgan-White said. “It took a lot of perseverance.”

Morgan-White's first exposure to Penn State was by chance. In eighth grade while attending school in Philadelphia, he was part of a Penn-State-themed cohort in his math class, with the walls decorated in blue and white. This prompted him to do a lot of research on Penn State, he said. Then, in high school, Morgan-White connected with a college adviser who is a Penn State alum, and she helped him apply to the University.

Hard work in high school and a Brooke J. Lenfest Scholarship helped Morgan-White to earn a place at Penn State and be able to pay for it. But the road to graduation was not easy, he said. Because he started at Penn State in 2016, the COVID-19 pandemic began has he was entering the final stages of college.

Morgan-White graduated in August 2021 with the support of his mother and the network of support services at Penn State.

“Don’t take your Penn State resources for granted,” he said. “If you have any issues you feel like you can’t handle, seek out the resources given to you. Communicate with professors, go to tutoring.”

He also said working for the student blog and news outlet Onward State helped him figure out his passion: entertainment and music writing. He said a dream job would be to write for Rolling Stone, the magazine that has helped launch the careers of some of the best entertainment, music, and pop culture writers of the last fifty years.

Though his college career wasn’t easy, and there were many challenges to overcome, Morgan-White said it was important for him finish and earn his degree.

“As a first-gen student, you have a lot to learn and look forward to.”