Lara Murray-Sterzel, Staff Writer |
SUNY Oneonta believes it is important to show appreciation for its first-generation students. To show its appreciation, the Office of Student Success has planned a series of events to celebrate National First-Generation Student Day, where students are acknowledged and given a chance to express their pride in being a first-gen student. Faculty and staff collaborated with students to plan each event this month.
On Tuesday, Nov. 8, the celebration started with a tabling held at Hunt Union where students and staff worked to provide access to the opportunities that are specifically for them. Afterwards, you can take a picture on their first-gen pride board and grab sweets from the table. I got to speak with three students as a part of this event about what being a first-generation student means to them. “For me, it means my parents sacrificed. That they led me to get here,” said one student. “I think that the school brings a lot of good opportunities to FG students,” another student had said when questioned them. The students were very excited about the next day where they’ll be holding a Meet-And-Greet for first-generation students in hopes of making connections.
“To network opportunities for FG students here can get them to talk to people in their field and their major that graduated, and who were FG too. I think that’s pretty amazing,” said one of the students that day. When asked if anyone heard any first-generation stories that have moved them, one of the students at the table, Julissa Fajardo, expressed how she feels about her story. “Personally, I feel like my own, I’ve taken pride in it because it’s my parents’ and me being the first born. Being the first one to go to college. I think that’s exciting, especially for my siblings.”
Kate McMillan, the Interim Director at the Office of Student Success and the organizer of the first-fen events this month, feels lucky to be a part of this celebration. “I’m a FG student and I think all of us have unique experiences traveling through college. I’m very fortunate to have an experience where I had some sibling’s kind of help me along the way too. But for students, no matter what their support system looks like at home, we want to make sure that we are there for them and that they have a place to come if they ever have any questions or concerns or just need a little help.”
McMillan wants First Gen students to not only meet other first-gen students, but also to familiarize themselves with the facilities and services on campus for first-gen students. “I anticipate that each year going forward this celebration will grow, so we’ll have more and more events and ways for students to get FG to connect with each other,” Kate McMillan had expressed.