A Musical Tribute to First-gen Student Success

Moeshia Scott, M.Ed., University of South Carolina / The Center / August 05, 2020

This song is about first-generation college students. The first verse reflects a student’s perspective of some challenges that they sometimes face as well as the emotions and thoughts associated with those challenges. The student success literature tells us that first-gen students may experience financial stress, feelings of isolation, and often overwhelming pressure to succeed. 

The second verse presents practical elements of a university’s response to the student’s concerns. According to the Center for First-generation Student Success, effective approaches can include establishing a common definition of first-generation student; mobilizing institution-wide efforts, instead of relying on initiatives within a single department; creating and enhancing opportunities for student engagement; building a campus culture that celebrates first-generation success; promoting peer and faculty mentoring/coaching initiatives; and shifting from a college-ready framework to a student-ready framework.

The song ends with a quote that captures the essence of effective student success efforts: a response that recognizes the unique strengths of the students we serve. We, as practitioners, must strive to ensure that our institutions’ educational environments do not inhibit our students’ efforts to reach their fullest potential. Ultimately, our institutions, not our students, are responsible for student success.

The song’s lyrics are based on the Center for First-generation Student Success’ First-Generation Student Success: A Landscape Analysis of Programs & Services at Four-Year Institutions. Other pieces of recent scholarship informed both the student and university viewpoints.

Download the Lyrics

Moeshia Scott is a 2020 graduate from the University of South Carolina, where she received both a master's degree in higher education and student affairs and a bachelor's degree in public health. Moeshia is a first-generation college student, a former McNair Scholar, and a former TRIO Opportunity Scholar. Her areas of interest are working with students in transition, namely first-year students, sophomores, and first-generation college students.