Did you know that the Center for First-generation Student Success and the American Association of Colleges & Universities both support the Council for Opportunity in Education’s inaugural First-generation College Celebration on November 8?
Yes, you read that right: We now have OUR OWN DAY to celebrate experiences of all of the first-generation college students, faculty and staff on campuses all over the nation!
Being a first-generation college student is something that I am very proud of, and if I could wear a badge every day, I would wear it with pride! A first-generation college student is the first in their family to go to college, and I was the first in my family to go off to college over 20 years ago. Back then, I did not know that there was such thing as a “first-gen” label, but I do remember not having anyone at home who could help me navigate the college admissions process, answer questions about registering for classes or on how to approach faculty about my grades.
I have a ton of stories about my first-gen experience, but the one I share most often goes back to the summer when I was moving into the residence halls as a new freshman. I grew up in San Antonio and the college I was going to was six hours away. I remember being so nervous about moving away from home and being away from my family, but I did not want my family to know how scared I was. I also did not know if my parents were allowed to help me move in and certainly did not want to be embarrassed if I was the ONLY freshman who had their mom with them on their first day of college. So, even though I was scared about moving away, I put on a brave face and politely told my mom that I could move myself into the residence halls and that she did not need to help me. So, on that sunny Saturday afternoon in August, my mom met me at the gas station down the street from our house, filled up my vehicle with gas, we hugged (I didn’t want to let her go, but I did) and I hopped into my truck and headed north. I watched her waving to me in my rearview mirror with tears welling in my eyes.
Six hours later, I pulled into my residence hall parking lot and there was a sea of parents, cousins, grandparents and siblings all helping their freshman college student move in to their dorm. I immediately felt alone, sad and sorry that I made my mom stay behind.
This was just one of the many times when I didn’t know anything about the “college norms.” My family and I were learning these lessons together, and there were many times I was too embarrassed to ask someone for help. I was blessed to have several coaches, faculty and staff in my college career who helped and encouraged me to ask questions. It is because of those folks I became a first-generation college graduate, and why I work in higher education today!
Remember how I mentioned that if I could wear a badge telling everyone I was a first-generation college student, I would? Well, Concordia University Texas has an organization, Engage!, dedicated to first-generation college student success and we will be celebrating First-Gen Day by launching a contest to design a logo for stickers! If you are creative and would love the chance to win a $50 gift card, here are the details to participate:
#CelebrateFirstGen Logo for Engage (CTX’s first-generation student organization):
Contest begins November 7 and deadline to submit is November 17
Logo color requirements: Purple and Gold
Submit logo entries to: Engage@concordia.edu
Winner will be announced on November 27
Use of Logo:
Logo will be used as the main logo for Concordia’s Engage! Program and to make stickers for first-generation faculty, staffand students to post in their offices, rooms, backpacks, computers, etc.
$50 gift card will be presented to the winner!
Help us celebrate First-Gen Day on November 8 by sharing your story with us! Use the hashtag #CelebrateFirstGen and tag us @ConcordiaTX.