Good day EMchat friends! This is my first official blog post with EMchat and I couldn't be more excited to share one of my many passions with you. First generation college students! So where does all of this passion come from for this group of students? Experience! Yup, you guessed it...I am a first generation college graduate. Before I get into the "nitty-gritty" of how I'm trying to find ways to support these students, let me explain what definition I'm working with. At my institution, we define first generation college students the same as the U.S. Department of Education. A student where neither the mother nor father obtained a bachelor's degree = firstgen. It was 2 years ago that this wonder about my own college journey pushed me to think about how current firstgen students feel at my own university. As the Director of Housing, I had a chance to hear residents talk in the residence halls about feeling alone and not having anyone back home that understood their struggles in college. It was then that I realized, something has to be done. I sat with two of these students and we talked. A connection was made. Not between just me and the students but them with each other.
We decided to meet again next week and they brought friends. Soon we realized we were embarking upon something here. A support network for firstgen. They were beginning to find a sense of belonging and knew others on campus were understanding their challenges. Suddenly, other firstgen staff heard about it and came to our meetings. Well fast forward a year later and we now have a First Generation College Student group on campus that faculty, staff, and students participate. It's such an amazing thing to see. It started with just a few people seeing a need and we responded. No money or fancy programming budget. Just conversations looking to inspire students to succeed and ultimately graduate. I hope that challenges and encourages you to do the same on your campus.
So there you have it! Follow me on twitter (@firstgencollege) or my Tumblr blog and join the conversation on continued support. Until we meet again...