University celebrates first-generation students

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University celebrates first-generation students

One event hosted was

One event hosted was "Pizza with the Provost."

Photo by Elena Fiegen

One event hosted was "Pizza with the Provost."

Photo by Elena Fiegen

Photo by Elena Fiegen

One event hosted was "Pizza with the Provost."

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Marquette University celebrated National First-Generation College Celebration Day Nov. 7-8 by hosting several activities for first-generation students on campus.

The Council for Opportunity in Education along with the Center for First-generation Student Success, launched the inaugural First-Generation College Celebration in 2017 and set the annual date for Nov. 8, according to the center’s website.

The university hosted events such as a Free Application for Federal Student Aid meeting, a graduate school informational meeting, an event called Pizza with the Provost and a stress-relieving craft night.

Having been a first-generation student, acting provost Kimo Ah Yun said these events are important.

“I understand that when you first attend a campus, you don’t necessarily know where to find where all the resources are,” Ah Yun said. “The event helps to pull people together … and allows students to connect and be support systems for each other.”

Clara Dwyer, assistant director for the Office of Engagement and Inclusion, was also a first-generation student.

She said the number of first-generation students attending college is growing nationally.

Among the first-generation students are freshmen in the College of Arts & Sciences, Paige Stoeffler and Ivan Moreno who spoke about what its like being a first-generation student.

“It is empowering honestly,” Stoeffler said. “We have worked hard to get this point.”

Stoeffler said there are pressures of being a first-generation student. She said she did not know as much as other students about college, but said it makes her work harder to succeed rather than give up.

“Since I do not know as much as others (about the college process), I have to try even harder,” Stoeffler said.  “However, (the pressure) makes me work harder to succeed rather than give up.”

Moreno said being a first-generation student is something he uses as motivation.

“We took a big step, but we did not do it alone,” Moreno said. “Some people do not get these opportunities, so when it was my time to go to college, my family sacrificed everything.”

Stoeffler said her younger sisters play a role in motivating her every day for school.

“I just want to be a good role model and example for them,” Stoeffler said. “By me going after what I want, I will inspire them to push forward and not be afraid of taking chances.”

Dwyer said many clubs and organizations collaborated to plan the event festivities for the event. She also said clubs that were not part of the planning process still wanted to be part of the celebration by asking for first-generation buttons that were being given away.

Ah Yun said the university has support for first-generation scholarships and for the Ready to Inspire Success and Excellence program. The program serves as an orientation for multicultural and underrepresented students.

“We just received a $5 million gift from an alum,” Ah Yun said. “$4.5 million will go to our first-gen scholarships, and the other half will help support the RISE program.”

Dwyer had some final advice for first-gen students who may be hesitant about taking the big leap to college.

“There are people here that care who may be first-gen themselves,” Dwyer said. “It’s a big transition to college, and regardless of your background, anyone can do it. If you have the will to do it, then you can do it.”

Ah Yun added that students should discover their passions and follow them.

“Do not be hesitant,” Ah Yun. “At the end of the day, it’s about finding a place to get an education to make your life better and also to grow as a person.”

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