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Pioneering Success: 19-Year-Old Trailblazer Becomes First in Family to Graduate College

Elisabeth Long
Elisabeth Long

Elisabeth Long has a lot to celebrate this year. At just 19, this first-generation college student from the small town of Black Springs has become the first person in her family to graduate from college.

Long is graduating from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a bachelor’s degree in political science, a minor in history, a 4.0 GPA, and a goal to become a lawyer.

At the Dec. 16 commencement ceremony, Long’s mother, Pamela, siblings, best friend, and mentors will all join her at UA Little Rock to celebrate this incredible milestone.

“I am very excited for graduation,” Long said. “I feel like I’ve worked very hard for it, and it’s been a long time coming.”

After finishing high school at 15, Long started college at National Park College and then transferred to UA Little Rock as an online student in the spring 2022 semester.

“I think what’s most memorable for me is how, as an online student, I have felt so included by my teachers and other students,” Long said. “The online atmosphere is really great.”

Along the way, she’s gained valuable experience working at Legacy Law Group in Hot Springs. Long interned there during the spring semester and now works part-time at the law firm. It’s proven to be helpful as Long has already taken the LSAT and is planning to attend UA Little Rock’s William H. Bowen School of Law in the fall.

She’s thankful to her advisor, Dr. Joe Giammo, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs, for helping her navigate college.

“I am a first-generation college student, and I had a lot of questions since I didn’t always know what I was doing,” Long said. “He was always very supportive, and I’ve been really lucky to have him.”

As for graduating at 19, Long doesn’t find the experience to be unusual because “so many of my friends are education- and goal-oriented. I think of myself as just like them.”