Christina Collins Burton
Alysia Arriola, freshmen biology major, has attended all the meetings of the new First Generation Club on campus. She has had the opportunity to connect with her mentor through e-mail as the first generation program moves forward with its matching.
This year, the program has undergone some major changes in order to offer a wide range of topics for students to gain experience in.
“The first generation program has definitely helped, to know I’m not the only one with these struggles opens my eyes to stay positive and happy,” Arriola said.
Newly formed this year, the First Generation Club gives first generation college students the chance to sit down and discuss their college experiences.
“I am looking for general guidance,” freshmen criminology major, Cynthia Gaeta said. “I wanted to get involved so I could have help and time management skills.”
Gaeta is one of many students who received and accepted her first generation scholarship that was sent out to incoming freshmen.
Student that attend the meetings have a chance to talk about their day or any problems they might be facing.
“We cover little details and discuss issues of the day, they are always concerned,” Arriola said.
Cynthia Gonzalez, president of the first generation club, has been working with the new members and the office of multi-cultural services to expand the club and offer outreach programs.
“We are brainstorming an outreach program to local High Schools to speak to students about the importance of a college education,” Gonzalez said. “We are also planning a family event so we can get the parents involved so they know what their kids are going through.”
The first generation program will be holding a parent’s day during homecoming weekend so parents can get an idea of what the program is doing for their children.
With Homecoming approaching, it becomes difficult to contact parents in time for the first generation parent day. Gonzalez wants to reach out to the parents in different ways, because it is important that first generation students to have parental support during their college career.
The first generation program has also become more active in connecting students with their mentors.
Mentors are often seen as intimidating to students when they first arrive on campus and this discourages them from being interactive with their mentors and even asking them questions. To help foster the relationships, the program had its mentors and mentees sit down and share their struggles.
Mentor involvement has become a key element in the bettering of the first-generation program.
Originally, students were able to individually contact their mentors to seek advice. Now the meetings allow students to hear from all mentors involved in the program.
“We want the mentors to share their struggles and obstacles, that way the students can find connections with them and see how the mentors overcame that struggle,” said Daniel Loera, the first generation program director “It will give a more human side to both the mentors and students.”
By having the mentors share their personal stories, Loera hopes that this will give the students an idea of who they would like to have as their mentor and offer a way for students to solve their own obstacles.
“Overall, we’ve really been trying to create opportunities for students to come forward and encounter each other, we want students to fill their needs,” Loera said.
Christina Collins Burton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.