When Seth Marshall was in high school, a teacher told him to not expect much from his life, that students who were not born rich would not succeed.
He felt worthless.
At that time, he was not a “model student.” His home was foreclosed on, and he said that he was dealing with family problems that drained his motivation to focus on academics.
After graduating from Lincoln High School in 2011, he attended Southeast Community College for four years, but the end goal was a degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Marshall said family drama affected his ability to focus in school, so he believed this would be the best path to take for financial and emotional reasons.
Now a 25-year-old junior journalism major at UNL, he has encountered challenges because he delayed applying to UNL and is a nontraditional student. However, he has also made friends at the university and learned more about how to improve his mental health.
Marshall said UNL was a “culture shock.” He was used to small class sizes instead of large lectures, and it was difficult for him to be older than the majority of the students.
“It has been a challenge, but I’ve found people who have been able to help me through these challenges,” Marshall said.
According to Marshall, it is sometimes difficult to fit in at UNL as a nontraditional student.
“Most people think if you’re not in college right after high school you’re weird, you’re different than everyone else,” Marshall said. “I don’t think people realize that there’s different paths to college and you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.”
However, UNL also has many advantages, some of which helped Marshall learn to deal with his mental illnesses.
“One of the biggest benefits has been challenging my anxiety,” he said. “I didn’t realize I dealt with anxiety and depression until I went to CAPS. It probably would’ve been something that would’ve showed up later in my life, and I wouldn’t know how to handle it. I’m still going through those things, but I’m learning to handle it better.”
At UNL, Marshall has maintained his relationship with College of Journalism and Mass Communications professorJoe Starita. When Marshall was a sophomore in high school, Starita noticed him taking pictures at a conference for Native Americans. Starita influenced Marshall’s decision to pursue journalism.
“He had a lot to deal with in his life, but there was a beat and a rhythm and a kick to his heart, and I wanted to do everything I could to make sure that tick and that beat kept on going and maybe try to take it up a notch,” Starita said.
Over the years, Starita has recommended internships and classes to Marshall. Since coming to UNL, Marshall said he has encountered challenges while adapting to campus, but Starita helped Marshall reaffirm his path at UNL.
“He just told me, ‘There’s some people who do it one way and some people who do it the other way,’” Marshall said. “He told me I chose the way that I believed was right...Even though I am the old man on campus, I feel right about myself.”
Marshall is also involved in UNITE, a recognized student organization for Native American students on campus, and he said he made friends through the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center.
Marshall became friends with senior supply chain management major and nontraditional student Simon Wang, and the two have bonded through their experience as nontraditional students.
“Seth is one of the most positive people I’ve met,” Wang said. “He’s always willing to help, willing to be there to support people. He’s also not afraid to share his opinions on things, and he does have a quirky sense of humor.”
According to Marshall, his challenges have broken him out of his shell, and helped him grow as a person.
“I’m here like everyone else,” he said. “I’m here to get an education. I’m here to get my degree. I’m here to find a better job. Yeah, people are going to remind me that I’m old, and there’s definitely some people here who like to keep me down ... at the same time, I’m here for a reason, and I’m doing this because I want to be here.”