Angela Elliott starts a new family tradition — by going to college at UC
Despite the odds, the Elliott siblings are the first in their family to attend college
In the basket was some UC swag, but more importantly there was a stack of notecards with a message written on each card. Among the messages: Get to class early so you get the seat you want. Register for classes as soon as they open so you have a good schedule. Don’t forget to fill out financial aid forms!
Angela Elliott, a UC senior majoring in social work, wrote the cards because she knew from experience how overwhelming it can be to attend college, especially as a first-generation college student. While Marcus has access to an academic adviser and a Marian Spencer adviser, he says he thinks of his sister as his bonus adviser.
“I had no idea where to start. I didn’t really know anything about college,” Angela says of receiving a UC Gen-1 scholarship in 2019 and moving into the Gen-1 1MPACT House. The scholarship paid for half of her housing and meal plan and also gave her access to a Gen-1 adviser, but there was still so much to navigate that she wanted Marcus to have all the advantages she could give him.
“One of the reasons I did go to college was to help my siblings. My scholarship essay was about wanting to go to remove generational curses,” says the Cincinnati Oyler School graduate who became valedictorian of her class, as did Marcus, despite circumstances during their upbringing that could have derailed them both.
At his graduation speech, Marcus thanked his mother, a substance use disorder survivor, for all the love and support she gave her children and says he is constantly thankful for all the strength it took her to overcome addiction when they were children and young teens.
“How did I get so lucky with my kids?” both siblings say is a constant refrain in their household, since their mother now works as a substance use disorder counselor and sees firsthand how children can flounder in addiction environments.
She’s taught me that if you work hard and give it your all that you can do anything.
Marcus Elliott on sister Angela
“Our experience is what really pushed me into majoring in social work,” Angela says, adding that her current internship at the Hamilton County Public Defenders’ Officer has helped her become more empathetic toward others in the same situation. Three days a week she works with clients who are incarcerated and need addiction treatment.
“I’m excited to go every day and it makes me happy to talk with my clients and help them make good choices,” she says.
Marcus says he has always looked up to his big sister as a role model and remembers when she was named valedictorian when he was a freshman. “I didn’t even know what the word meant,” so she explained it to him, and he decided that it sounded like a good thing to be.
“I try to follow in her footsteps when I can. She’s taught me that if you work hard and give it your all that you can do anything.”
She also taught him, by giving him an umbrella, that it’s always a good thing not to get caught in a rainstorm.
“I wouldn’t even have an umbrella if it wasn’t for her.”
Featured image at top of Angela Elliott: Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand