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First-Gen Proud at Dyersburg State

Tracie Keith, Dyersburg State Community College / The Center / May 29, 2024

Dyersburg State Community College Jurni Montague

Dyersburg State Community College (DSCC) held its inaugural first-generation student celebrations on November 8, 2023. The event aimed to increase awareness of first-generation students, faculty, and staff across the institution. Institutional data shows that 34% of the Fall 2023 student population were first-generation students. The Tennessee Board of Regents systemwide definition for a first-generation student is: “When neither parent or legal guardian is known to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree (4-year degree) from an institution located within the U.S.”

Before the event, all faculty and staff were sent a simple survey via email, and those who identified as first-gen were given a “First-Gen Proud” button to wear while teaching, to display in their office, and to show their support during the celebration event. The events were hosted at both the Dyersburg Campus and Jimmy Naifeh Center in Tipton County in the mornings when more students were on campus. Students, faculty, and staff were invited to graze on pastries and coffee while they networked with peers. Swag items branded “First-Gen Proud” were also available so guests could show their pride on and off campus.

Dyersburg State Community College NM Blog Dr. Scott Cook
Among the event guests was DSCC’s President, Dr. Scott Cook (pictured), a first-generation student who is an inspiration to students and the campus community.

“My experience attending a local community college as a first-generation student was truly transformative. My father never graduated high school or earned a GED, and I was the first person in his family to graduate college and one of the first on my mother’s side to do so. My first years of college set me on a path that has afforded me opportunities I could never have dreamed of. College changed my life’s trajectory for the better, and I’ve accomplished nothing that our students at Dyersburg State cannot accomplish,” said President Dr. Scott Cook.

“Dyersburg State felt and still feels like home. As a first-generation college student, the staff members pushed me to my limits and beyond. I have no idea where I would be without the staff members. I will forever call DSCC my home,” shared Montague.

Jurni was a Lady Eagles soccer player and an Eagle Ambassador. She recently graduated from DSCC and will attend Union Commonwealth University in Kentucky in the Fall. She is also receiving athletic and academic scholarships. We are proud to be a part of Jurni’s educational journey.

“I am a proud first-generation student. Coming from one of the poorest counties in Tennessee, I saw how challenging life can be and wanted better for myself. In attending college at DSCC, I thrived in a welcoming, caring atmosphere. DSCC truly helped me grow academically and socially. It helped provide the building block for my education, which allowed me to continue my education at UT Martin. College gave me opportunities that forever enriched my life. It gave me options for a better life. My journey started at DSCC, and I am blessed to have been employed by DSCC for the past eight years. My advice to those who are also first-generation is never to let anyone or anything keep you from reaching your goals. The end result is rewarding and fulfilling, and I am forever grateful for DSCC and my college education,” shared Jones.

DSCC is excited to host their second annual First-Gen Celebration in November 2024 as it continues to focus on growing college-wide awareness of the First-Gen population amongst the faculty, staff, and students and celebrating their successes.

For more information on Dyersburg State Community College's approach, please visit their website here.