First-Gen Student Spotlight: Marzani Kirkland

Written by: Ryan Helterhoff (MAMC ‘23)

  1. As a first-generation student and Machen Opportunity Scholar, what has your experience been like overall? Are there any specific challenges you’ve faced in your personal or educational life that have pushed you forward?
  • My experience at UF has been nothing short of amazing albeit challenging. I have professors who push me to work and execute in ways I’m not used to, but I’m grateful for that. One challenge in particular that has pushed me forward occurred this past summer. I was overwhelmed with the amount of coursework I had and was dealing with having to handle it all from home, but I got through it and the experience helped me improve my work ethic as well.

2. What role has the Digital Worlds Institute played in your experience as a first-gen student? What has your experience here been like?

  • DW has opened my eyes to the endless career possibilities in the digital media space, and has helped me to refine my future career goals. As a first-gen student I didn’t realize just how in-depth the learning experience is within college, so I am forever grateful for the time my professors have taken to teach me skills I would not have known otherwise.

3. What has your support system been like throughout your college career? Have there been any particular people (family, friends, etc.) or organizations (clubs, groups, etc.) that have helped you along the way?

  • My family has been one of the biggest parts of my support system! They always encourage me and remind me to rest when I need it, which helps me manage my workload by not getting burnt out. My close friends have also been incredibly supportive. Just hearing them tell me “you got this” is enough to push me to keep going, especially when I get in my own head about assignments and finals.

4. What are your plans after graduation?

  • After I graduate, I plan on working as the Creative Director for my parent’s businesses and hopefully being able to intern for a major media company.

5. What advice would you give to first-gen students just starting college?

  • The advice I would give to first-gen students just starting college is to take your time, give everything your all, and get some rest. Managing your moments is so important to your success. Putting as much effort as you can into your work will propel you beyond your limits and help you expand your horizons. However, don’t forget to take some time off. Resting is just as productive as working! Burnout helps no one, so please rest regularly.



News, stories, and updates from the Digital Worlds community at the University of Florida.

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UF Digital Worlds Institute

News, stories, and updates from the Digital Worlds community at the University of Florida.