Time at Tech Solidifies Lifelong Friendship

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by Kristen Bailey, Institute Communications

When Kayleigh Haskin and Chloe Thomas met in fourth grade, they didn’t know it would be the beginning of a nearly inseparable 13-year friendship.

As it turns out, the two international affairs majors from Acworth, Georgia, have now navigated college together as first-generation students, best friends, and roommates for all four years.

Both were initially drawn to Georgia Tech for its excellence in earth and atmospheric sciences — Thomas wanted to be a meteorologist. Once on campus, though, they found themselves moving in new directions.

“I learned I was more interested in how people interact with science than with the science itself,” said Kayleigh, who double majored in history and sociology and pursued the research option for her degree.

For Chloe, participation in the Air Force ROTC program altered her long-term plans. She was first interested in the Air Force in high school and did Civil Air Patrol, but didn’t know how it would figure into her future.

“That became more of my long-term goal than being a meteorologist, so I changed majors to be more aligned with the program,” she said.

Being first-generation students, the two had to learn much for themselves when it came to college life. Chloe nearly had her classes canceled her first semester when she almost missed paying a bill and getting a last-minute bank loan. Kayleigh works three on-campus jobs. Last year, when she won the Bellon Award at the annual Student Honors Celebration, which comes with a $1,000 prize, she put the money straight toward tuition costs.

Both have filled out their own FAFSA each year, coordinated tax issues with parents, and worked through having their FAFSA selected for verification — a process that is requested from about one third of students who file, and that requires students to provide supporting documentation to verify their data.

With each challenge they faced, Kayleigh immersed herself in online research to find a solution on behalf of the two of them, but it still was a learning process throughout their time at Tech. In fact, one thing she advises others is not to try to do it all on your own.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “You can do all the research you want, but there are people who can and want to help you and at some point, you’re going to have to ask.”

Haskin noticed that some of her peers had more help from parents and families when it came to these administrative needs or financial support. But, for some, that also came with certain academic or career expectations they may not have had for themselves. Both Haskin and Thomas had families who supported them as they changed majors and found their way.

“They were more concerned that I get a degree rather than in what the degree was in,” Chloe said.

Now, their families are eager to celebrate.

“It feels like as a first-generation student, all of my accomplishments are also their accomplishments,” Thomas said.

This summer, Thomas will be commissioned and head to Pensacola, Florida, as a combat systems officer trainee at Pensacola Naval Air Station. Meanwhile, Haskin will stay at Tech another year to earn a master’s in international affairs through the BS/MS program.

Beyond sharing a similar living style and one of them (Haskin) being willing to do the cooking, what’s kept them together is their mutual support for one another. Even through a summer when they studied abroad on different continents, Haskin and Thomas have talked nearly every day since fourth grade — and they don’t plan on changing that.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Kayleigh Haskin
  • Created: 05/02/2019
  • Modified By: Kayleigh Haskin
  • Modified: 05/02/2019

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