I grew up in rural North Carolina, in a single-parent, poor, working-class family living in a singlewide mobile home. Writing that sentence takes courage after 30 years of denial, guilt, and feeling like an outsider in academia. As a first-generation college student, I struggled with financial challenges. But just as problematic were the social and cultural barriers that made me doubt whether I was smart enough to be in college or to pursue a career in science. Now a full professor and chair of my department, I know that, with the help of supportive colleagues and mentors, students like me can succeed.