| 03.24.2018

Starting from scratch – First-generation college student describes her adventures, challenges


Throughout her life, Natalie Dobkins was never encouraged by her parents to go to college. Her mother came to the U.S. from the  Philippines when she was 18 and did not see the need for acquiring an education.

It wasn”t until she graduated high school that Dobkins realized she needed an education to accomplish her goals. So she applied to the University of Idaho.

“I didn”t think that I could accomplish that ever, coming from where I come from, in a household that didn”t believe in education,” Dobkins said.

She was a self-described shy student with an undecided direction and a passion for cheerleading.

Now, Dobkins is a busy-body who speaks confidently about her accomplishments at UI as a first generation student. She has a regional management job waiting for her in North Carolina after she graduates with a bachelor degree in business marketing this semester.

That goal has not come without its challenges, though.

Dobkins said it was a few years ago that a new family took her into their home to live. There, Dobkins got to know her adoptive siblings Elizabeth Campbell and Chris Campbell as she finished high school and moved on to UI.

During her freshman year, Dobkins fell down the stairs of the Theophilus Tower in what she called a life-changing moment. The fall lead to a concussion that left Dobkins unable to speak properly for three months.

“It was a rough time, but she came out the better for it because she never gave up,” Elizabeth said. “She didn”t just give up and lay in bed all day. She went out and she did her job and she went to class and she worked through it.”

It was not until Dobkins began a marketing internship in Atlanta that she and others said she started to develop the confidence she has today, Elizabeth said.

“I never had any doubts that she was going to be successful in college,” Chris said. “Like, she”s very determined and she works really hard with everything.”

Kira Hunter | Argonaut
Graduating senior Natalie Dobkins works on a final project in the University of Idaho Library on Wednesday of dead week. Dobkins will graduate Saturday.

During her time in Atlanta, Dobkins worked with the university coupon company, Campus Special, to bring the company”s services to the West.

Dobkins has worked other internships since then, including her most recent position as a sponsorship coordinator for the university where she helped manage all advertising displayed in the Kibbie Dome.

Besides marketing and schoolwork, Dobkins said she likes to stay active and travel.

With just a backpack, Dobkins recently set out for a month and a half in Central American to see new sights, meet new people and hike volcanoes.

Dobkins even tried volcano-boarding, a sport where one uses a board to slide down a mountain, or in Dobkins” case, a volcano.

“It was thrilling, it was exhilarating,” Dobkins said. She pointed out the activity”s No. 2 spot on CNN”s list, “Big thrills: 50 ways to be a daredevil.”

Dobkins friends said this kind of adventure is no surprise coming from her.

“She”s always the one that makes our friend group get off our butts and do stuff,” Campbell said.

Campbell also has words of advice for fellow college students.

“Get internships,” Campbell said, banging her hand on the table. “I yell that at everyone that I ever come across.”

As for her future goals, Campbell wants to use her time in North Carolina to continue to be involved with people and manage them.

Elizabeth said they expect a successful future for Dobkins.

“Natalie is one of the hardest working people I know by far,” Elizabeth said. “She has overcome so much in her life and she has done so well.”

Taylor Nadauld can be reached at  arg-news@uidaho.edu  or on Twitter @tnadauldarg

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