1st Generation CSUF students learn more about support and resources available on campus – Orange County Register

By Nicole Gregory, Contributing Author

Stepping onto Cal State Fullerton’s sprawling campus can be intimidating for students who are the first in their families to cross the college threshold. For this reason, staff and faculty members want to ensure they are aware of the many sources of support, guidance and information available to them through events taking place during National First-Generation Student Week November 7-11.

The week of events marks the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which was part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty. The law was intended to provide education for all and led to the creation of federal grant and loan programs.

Today, about five million first-generation students attend colleges and universities across the country, according to the Center for First-Generation Student Success, based in Washington DC at Cal State Fullerton, about 32% of the student population are first-generation students. and most are Spanish.

The week begins on November 7th with a resource fair on Tuffy Lawn between the Student Recreation Center and Titan Gym. Representatives from the Office of Financial Aid, Undergraduate Research Opportunity Center, Center for Scholars, Male Success Initiatives, TRIO Student Support Services and many others will be at their desks to answer questions and distribute information. Students who attend five of these tables can receive a free “I Am First” t-shirt sponsored by the CSUF Career Center.

A Habit Burger food truck sponsored by the Department of Student Affairs will also be on site, and students who register for the event will receive a meal ticket to redeem while supplies last.

“First-generation students want to learn how to navigate the system when they get here,” said Julianna Hernandez, associate director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships College Access & Career Pathways, who was the first in her family to attend college. “It can be difficult because you don’t want to appear like you’re not competent enough to go to college. And it can seem like everyone else knows what they’re doing.”

National First Generation Week events aim to help high school students feel competent and confident. These include a morning meeting of first-generation transfer students, a panel discussion on leadership and first-generation students, a donuts-and-discussion meet-up with first-generation faculty, a money budgeting workshop, and more. (Check the #csuffirstgen Instagram page for event updates.)

“We want to help students connect to resources, help them connect, and help them build a community,” said Jennifer Mojarro, director of the Career Center. “They struggle with the fear of the unknown and don’t know where to start,” she said. “We want students to make connections with other first-generation students so they know they’re not alone. There are many other people out there who have gone through the same struggles.”

A family member hugs a freshman from Cal State Fullerton. (Courtesy of CSUF News Media Services)
A family member hugs a freshman from Cal State Fullerton. (Courtesy of CSUF News Media Services)

To make clear what that number looks like, a group photo of staff and faculty members who identify as first-generation students will be taken Tuesday. President Fram Virjee proudly says he was the first in his family to go to college.

First-generation students can feel a lot of pressure to succeed in college, Hernandez said. “As the eldest of four children, my parents were proud and cheered me on. It was so exciting to be the first in my family to go to college, but I also felt extra pressure to be a good role model for my siblings.”

Hernandez hopes first-generation students will learn about programs that offer support. “We have special programs like the Abrego Future Scholars Program that provide financial and academic support to first-year students,” she said. This program awards 50 $1,500 scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students.

At the kick-off event, the Career Center staff will provide information about the workshops on offer. “We assigned a careers specialist to each college department,” Mojarro said. “We also offer ‘drive-thru’ classes where students can meet with career coaches who review resumes and cover letters.”

The career coaches can also explain the different careers in different degree programs.

Mojarro wants students to attend the center early. “We encourage students to visit us from day one – even in the summer before they start college, so they can plan their next four years. We have career fairs and workshops and panels where we invite employers to talk about how students can prepare for an interview or the next steps in their career.”

She looks forward to sharing these programs with first generation students at the launch event on November 7th. “We want to make it more of a celebration for students to understand the opportunities of being a first-generation student.”

https://www.ocregister.com/2022/11/08/csufs-1st-generation-students-learn-about-support-resources-available-on-campus/ 1st Generation CSUF students learn more about support and resources available on campus – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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