Creating his own path for others to follow

By Kyle Hobstetter on February 12, 2019

A first-generation college student, Baltimore City native Lewis Laury is making the most of his time at TU.

Towson University first-generation student Lewis Laury
Baltimore City native Lewis Laury is in his second year at Towson University. The first-generation psychology student is hoping to use his bachelor's degree as a stepping stone to law school. 

Lewis Laury understands why he’s in college. The TU sophomore knows he’s here to achieve a good GPA, earn a degree and find a good job. 

But as a first-generation psychology major, Laury admits there is more to his education than the norm. He had to find a reason to earn the good GPA, the degree and the good job. 

He’s realized he has two very good reasons: his eight- and 12-year old sisters, who are watching a family member go to college for the first time.

“They are my motivation, they are my passion, and that’s why I continue to do what I do,” Laury says. “Before I came to TU, they talked about being cheerleaders. Now they talk about how they want to be doctors. 

“One person can change mindsets in the household. It’s just amazing.” 

And while his going to college changed his siblings’ mindset, Laury still had his doubts. The Baltimore City native says the summer after he graduated high school, he thought only about his likelihood of failing. 

But that’s not what happened. In his first semester at TU, Laury earned dean’s list recognition. It was after his second semester—and second dean’s list honor—that Laury finally started to let those fears of failure fade away. 

“I just thought to myself, ‘I can do this,’” he says.

Laury also credits TU’s SAGE Program for his success. SAGE partners with Housing and Residence Life and the Center for Student Diversity to host a Residential Learning Community.   

He says living in the SAGE Residential Learning Community helped him find a support system on campus. He recalls sitting alone in the community lounge and being joined by floormates who formed large group study sessions.  

“On that floor I had a community,” Laury says, smiling. “I met some of my greatest friends through SAGE, and that’s what helped me gain a support system to be able to move through college.”

Learn more about TU's First Generation Students

Laury initially came to TU as a dual political science/economics major, with a focus on going to law school after graduating. But he wasn’t happy.

So after his first year on campus, Laury switched his major to psychology, which he chose because he’s always been fascinated with how the mind works and how people react to certain situations.

He’s also hoping that a psychology degree will prove useful in the pursuit of his ultimate goal: becoming a juvenile justice lawyer.

“Juvenile justice is my passion,” Laury says. "Even if I wasn’t a lawyer I would want to be a psychologist for juveniles. By having a psychology degree, I hope it lets me understand why they are in the criminal justice system. I want to stop children from committing crimes that impact their lives.” 

He also wants to be an advocate for Baltimore City by educating his hometown about poverty, gentrification and redlining—all of which he sees impacting Baltimore City every day.

“The things I learned here at TU can be applied to my real life,” Laury says. “TU is allowing me to be an advocate and to make real change, not just for the people in Baltimore City, but also for myself.”

Laury has already taken steps on learning the lawmaking process. This includes taking internships with The Maryland General Assembly and the Baltimore City Council. 

Through these internships, Laury got to watch how Maryland and Baltimore policies and laws are created. It also encouraged him to join TU’s Student Government Association as a senator, as well as President Pro-Tempore. 

“Gaining those experiences, learning about how politics work and then understanding how to change the political system, that’s why I ultimately came to SGA,” he says. “SGA is where I can get my start in changing the political system and which allows me to make policy changes within an organization.”

And just like a lot of his college career, he was able to use his experience in SGA to help give back to his hometown.

“Not only did I get to write legislature for problems I saw on campus, but I got to do community service in Baltimore City,” Laury says. “And it was amazing because, it’s great to help and advocate for my hometown.”

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