Throughout the year, we'll be sharing stories as part of this year's academic theme “Share Your Story.” This is the first in that ongoing series.
In terms of looks, Lauren Valentino ’26 and her twin sister couldn’t be more different: “She has dark features—tan skin, dark hair, brown eyes—and I’m the complete opposite.”
Looks aside, they have something significant in common: They’re both first-generation college students.
While her sister Lindsey studies education in Providence, R.I., Valentino is majoring in marketing and advertising at Endicott College, with hopes to one day be a self-employed marketing professional.
Raised on the shoreline of Connecticut, Valentino was drawn to Endicott’s oceanfront setting and impressed by its curriculum. Attending college at the same time as her sister, while exciting, also posed financial concerns—but as a recipient of Endicott’s Inspire Scholarship for first-generation college students, she received aid that ultimately helped her realize her dream of being a Gull.
“The scholarship made it possible for me to come here and I’m very grateful for it,” Valentino said. “I also think it’s really important that we’re acknowledging first-generation college students, and that it is a very different experience for us.”
While some students can pick their parents’ or older siblings’ brains on FAFSA forms and matters of college, the Valentino sisters had no such frame of reference. Their experience was also different from what their mother went through at their age.
“As soon as she was 18, she was out on her own. She got a job and her own place. Ever since then, she’s always taken care of herself, no matter what,” Valentino said of her mother, who became a solo parent after Valentino’s father passed away. “I think because my mom didn’t go to college, she wasn’t pushing it, but I knew in her heart she really wanted us to go.”
Valentino is constantly inspired by her mother’s strength, perseverance, and kindness. “My mom wasn’t given the best hand in life, but she was always there for us,” she shared. “I’ve learned that life is what you make of it. You have to make it the best you can with the hand you’re dealt.”
In her first year as a Gull, Valentino proved that she possesses some of her mother’s traits. When she came to Beverly, she didn’t know anyone except her roommates, whom she met online. The prospect of starting at a new school in a new place was, in her words, “a little scary.” But ever her mother’s daughter, she faced her fears head-on and hasn’t looked back.
“I had an advertising class last semester, and we had to do a whole research plan and make print ads and a Spotify radio ad,” Valentino said. “You couldn’t be scared. You had to show everything to the class, so you had to follow your gut and what you thought was good. I was really proud of that as a whole.”
As a member of the Endicott chapter of Her Campus, a leading media outlet for college women, she’s met several friends and discovered a potential outlet for her evolving marketing skills.
“Right now, I’m just a member, but I would like to be on the board at some point. You can do social media management, which would be right up my alley,” Valentino said. “It’s a cool way to meet people and bond with people. It’s all really fun.”
Now in her sophomore year, Valentino is fresh off her summer gig as a social media intern for Connecticut-based mural artist Patrick Ganino. Looking ahead, she hopes to study abroad and get more entrepreneurial experience to be her own boss. That freedom is important to her. Having a coterie of clients. Making her own schedule. Traveling whenever she wants.
“I’d love to have those opportunities and not just be stuck in one place,” she said. “Immersing myself in a completely different environment would be super cool.”
Though that future is still likely a few years off, Valentino now has the time to pave her own path and encourage others to do the same.
“I think it’s kind of cool that my sister and I get to make our own legacy,” she said. “A lot of people do what their parents did, or they go to the same school as their parents. I think you’re really honoring your family by being the first ones to go to college.”
Have an interesting story to share? Get involved in Endicott’s social media with the Gull Creator Program or submit your own unique story. Are you an alum? We also want to hear your story! You could be contacted for a follow-up feature.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can support students like Lauren through the Inspire Scholarship, contact Anthony Barbuto, Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement at email@example.com or 978-232-2362.