In celebration of their perseverance under difficult circumstances, first generation students gathered together to explore their resources at A&M.
A&M joined in the nationwide celebration of First Generation College Student Day on Nov. 8 in Rudder Plaza. As a collaboration between The Office for Student Success and Division for Student Affairs, the celebration gave students the opportunity to connect with resources such as the Peer Leadership and Service Program, the Career Center and organizations like First Generation Aggies and The 12th Can. Each organization tabled at the event and provided an introduction to the specific assistance they offer to first generation students. The celebration also offered them free food, prizes and pictures with Reveille.
Student Body President Mikey Jaillet said the day is to celebrate the accomplishments of first generation students at A&M, but also garner feedback on what the university can do to continue to improve.
“Resources are incredibly important as it’s a walk that has never been taken before [by first generation students],” Jaillet said. “Family is very important, and having the Aggie family as a first generation college student really creates a better success probability in college. Establish that community, find a group of people that you can talk to because that is so impactful in helping you succeed.”
The event is a proactive initiative to create social events for first generation students Dean of Mays Business School, Eli Jones, said. As a first generation student himself, Jones said people in his life did not always understand the difficulties he faced, but by building a community, he was able to better navigate his way through the process.
“One of the things that stands out in first generation students is resilience: the ability to persevere, to be a trailblazer and be the first in your family to get a college degree,” Jones said. “It shows a lot of character, boldness and courage.”
Kelsey Fortuna, Class of 2019 and member of the Peer Leadership & Service Program said being a first generation student comes with uncharted roles and responsibilities that may be more familiar to other college students.
“It begins even before they come here to college,” Fortuna said. “They might not know what the [application] process is like or what major to choose, who to contact, how to apply for scholarships. Once they do overcome those barriers, sometimes it can still feel like you are falling behind.”
From online resume review systems to mock interviews, the Career Center provides useful tools to prepare students for life after college, graduate assistant at the Career Center Aaron Aleman said.
“Coming from a working class family, I did not know what a resume was until my junior year of undergrad,” Aleman said. “So one of the things I love most about my role at the Career Center is that I directly work with students and try to ease any anxiety about the job search process as well as in pursuing post graduate pursuits.”
Fortuna said first time experiences, especially one as difficult as going entering college without guidance, come with benefits that will build your identity.
“Being in a community with like-minded people and people who are in the same situation or face the same struggles, it’s comforting to know that you are not alone,” Fortuna said. “There are many students on the A&M campus that are first generation. Even if you don’t need the extra help it can be nice to have a community.”