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It Takes a Village

Cody Miller, Roane State Community College / The Center / January 23, 2024

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At Roane State Community College (RSCC) in Tennessee, it takes a village to support first-generation students. The success of these students often relies on the collaborative efforts of different departments within RSCC. We recognize the unique challenges faced by first-generation students and have developed collaborative strategies to support their academic and personal development.

One key aspect of collaboration is the integration of academic and support services. Academic departments work closely with a variety of services such as success coaches in our Student Success Center, faculty advisors, counseling, the Learning Center, Library, and student activities to create a holistic support system. For example, success coaches work with our Dean of Students office to identify first-generation students and provide them with targeted advising and support. Another example, the Learning Center coordinates with specific courses and professors to offer subject-specific assistance, addressing the unique needs of first-generation students in various disciplines.

Another essential collaboration occurs between faculty and the Counseling Department. Faculty members are often on the front lines of student engagement, and their understanding of the challenges faced by first-generation students is invaluable. Faculty can work with counselors and student services professionals to identify students who need additional support, develop intervention strategies, and provide community resources. This collaboration enhances the academic experience by creating a supportive environment that goes beyond the classroom.

Success coaches and the Advising Resource Center also play a crucial role in supporting first-generation students. Collaborations between academic departments and coaches/advisors help bridge the gap between education and employment. Students get career planning services to help students learn the various job opportunities that are available. First-generation students benefit from these collaborations by gaining a clearer understanding of their career paths and acquiring the skills needed for success in the workforce.

In addition to academic and career-focused collaborations, RSCC fosters partnerships with community organizations. These collaborations provide first-generation students with access to resources, mentorship programs, and networking opportunities. By connecting students with community leaders and professionals, these partnerships broaden the students' perspectives and enhance their sense of belonging in both the academic and local community.

This collaboration enhances the academic experience by creating a supportive environment that goes beyond the classroom.

Furthermore, RSCC holds special programs and events aimed specifically at first-generation students. These programs often involve collaborative efforts between various departments to create a comprehensive support structure. For instance, our Campus Activities department has a first-generation essay contest with the winner getting recognition and prizes. This essay contest is in conjunction with a campus event, such as Fall Fest or Spring Fling, where First-Gen stickers/buttons are passed around and the essay contest winner is announced. The latest winner of the contest says she is “proud to be a first-generation student” and hopes to inspire others that they can be successful no matter what stage of life they are in.

Ultimately, the success of first-generation college students at RSCC depends on the commitment of various departments to collaborate and create a supportive ecosystem. These collaborative efforts go beyond academic support, encompassing career planning, community engagement, and holistic development. By recognizing the specific challenges faced by first-generation students and implementing collaborative strategies, Roane State Community College seeks to empower these students to overcome obstacles and achieve their academic and career goals.

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