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Victoria Riley

Through a collection of photos and stories, Digital Communications Specialist Victoria Riley reflects on being part of the first generation in her family to attend college.

Victoria Riley joined the Office of Communications at KU Medical Center in May 2020, relocating from Florida for her position overseeing social media and other digital projects. In this photo slideshow, she shares stories about her experience pursuing higher education and what it meant to follow in the footsteps of her siblings while paving new pathways for her family.

I grew up in Pembroke Pines, Florida, and attended college at Lynn University in Boca Raton. I think what stood out to me most during my time in college was the feeling of making my parents proud. To watch them work so hard over the years, it only felt right to repay them by going further in my education. So many of my accomplishments started with — and were completed with — them in mind.
I was able to attend college on a scholarship and did so through a program called the 3.0+1 program at Lynn. Through the program, I was able to receive my Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Journalism in three years and my Master of Science in Communications & Media Practice in one year. Although my parents never attended college themselves, they worked tirelessly to learn and understand the college application and financial aid process. They knew the opportunity for me to obtain two degrees in four years was a unique and special opportunity, so they did everything in their power to help make it happen.
I think that for a while, it was hard to identify myself as a first-generation student. Neither of my parents graduated from college, but my two older siblings did. I wanted to follow in their footsteps. It took some time for me to understand that even though I was the third sibling to attend college, we were all first-generation students making an equal impact in our family. We each chose different paths and paved the way for our family in different ways. I think deep down we knew that our parents had these big dreams for us, and living out those dreams was our way of thanking them for the life they worked so hard to give us.
They say it takes a village: My parents helped prepare me and get me to college, and the scholarships, programs and mentorship I received at Lynn kept me going. Going to a smaller university allowed me to forge unique relationships with faculty and staff. Their mentorship and guidance, along with the top-tier programs, allowed me the opportunity to grow as a student leader, work a student job on campus, study abroad and thrive in my education. I am still very close with my mentors today and continue to be an involved alumna of the university.
After working as a digital communications specialist at Saint Andrew's School in Boca Raton, I moved to Kansas City in 2020 and began my role at KU Medical Center. My role at the medical center allows me to work with departments and groups across the institution to uplift the stories and voices of our community. My unique perspective as a first-generation student and my experience in education continue to propel me forward in my role at KU and beyond.
Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

University of Kansas Medical Center
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Mailstop 2015
3901 Rainbow Boulevard
Kansas City, KS 66160
Phone: 913-588-3319
Fax: 913-588-1412