Jeff Grundon '80 | "The Professors Really Are Here for You"

He was the oldest of seven children in a single-parent family in Hawai‘i.

When Jeff Grundon ’80 came to Pacific University, he was surprised to find himself struggling academically.

“I wasn’t prepared for the changes I had to make in study habits, working and going to school, and navigating all of the different nuances,” he said.

“The professors would write on my paper, ‘Come see me.’ I was ashamed. I had this stand-up big afro. My English was awful. I could only speak Pigeon.”

He didn’t want to fail. He was the first in his family to go to college, and he didn’t want to return to Hawai‘i without a degree.

Finally, he sought help.

The professors, after all, were what had drawn him to Pacific: A friend who attended had written him letters all about having dinner with his professors and calling them at home.

“The professors really are here for you,” he said. “They care about you, and they are going to do anything they can to help you succeed.”

He did succeed. Grundon not only earned his degree from Pacific, he led others in the same direction.

“My baby brother and sister went to Pacific. My two oldest kids went to Pacific,” he said. “I work at Pacific. This is my passion.”

Today, Grundon is an undergraduate admissions counselor. He’s worked for Pacific for almost 36 years, starting as a football coach in 1980 and today reaching out to prospective students from Hawai‘i, as well as parts of Oregon and Washington.

He offers advice for other first-generation students — students who, like him, didn’t come to college with the inside knowledge and support others might have.

“Seek out help. Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he said. “You can go as far as you want to go. Don’t let anything stand in your way.”

First-Generation at Pacific | About 24 percent of Pacific University undergraduate students are “first-generation,” meaning they are the first in their families to attend college. Pacific faculty and staff are seeking out ways to better support those students through their college experience, including a recent luncheon where staff and faculty like Grundon shared their own first-generation experiences. “There are people here to help you,” said College of Arts & Sciences Dean Lisa Carstens. ”We already know you can do it; you’re here. We just want to make it smoother.”

Monday, April 11, 2016