As a first-generation college student and American-born citizen, BSBA junior Lesley Ta represents the many Suffolk students who are forging an entirely new path, not only for themselves, but also for their families. Through hard work and perseverance, she is creating an identity that is her own, championing the individuality that Suffolk University encourages.

“I felt like Suffolk was always the right school for me,” she said. Having grown up in nearby Malden, she describes herself as a city person. Suffolk’s location, along with its unique diversity drew her and her family to the University. Ta’s parents, both Vietnam War refugees, wanted her to have the college education that they never had the opportunity to have.

For Ta, Suffolk is about so much more than earning a degree. It’s a place full of opportunities that have allowed her to grow as a person, challenge herself, build self-confidence, and become a leader among her peers. “As an ambitious individual, I am so happy that I am able to accomplish my goals in the process of becoming the person who I want to be,” she said.

As the first in her family to go to college, Ta hopes to be an inspiration for her nine-year-old sister, “I try my best to be a role model for her,” she said. That’s why she pushes herself academically and is an active member of the Suffolk community. She’s a double major in accounting and finance, both a McNair and Ballotti Scholar, and a member of the Sawyer Business School Honors Program.

She’s also actively involved with Suffolk’s Center for Community Engagement. Recently, she was the student leader on the Alternative Winter Break to Vietnam. Ta, along with six other students, traveled to Hanoi as part of a Habitat for Humanity project. The group spent seven days building a house for a family in the northern Vietnam province of Phú Thọ.

After graduation, Ta plans to attend graduate school and continue her involvement at Suffolk University. “Suffolk has been a transformative, life-changing experience. I see the world and perceive myself differently than when I first started school. I’m excited to keep on going and continue to not only improve myself, but also to establish my identity. It’s important to always try to outdo who you were yesterday.”