Northeast State Community College First-Generation Day Celebration

Wesley Greear, Northeast State Community College / The Center / November 30, 2023

First-generation student panel at Northeast State Community College

On November 7 and 8, Northeast State Community College (NeSCC) celebrated National First-Generation Day. The committee that organized these events comprised members from various departments at NeSCC. These included the Academic Resource Center, Multi-Cultural Center, Office of Institutional Excellence and Student Success, and TRiO. First-generation college students, classified as students whose parents/ guardians have not obtained a bachelor’s degree, comprise a significant percentage of enrolled students at NeSCC (well over 25% of enrolled students). For this reason, celebrating these students is very important.

On November 7, a panel of four current first-generation students and one first-generation staff member participated in a discussion about their experiences as being first-generation and advice they would give other first-generation students. The panel was attended by NeSCC faculty, staff, and students with several questions asked by the group. The panel did an excellent job answering these questions and discussing changes they thought would help future students. Represented in the panel photo (left to right) are Dan Adams, Issac Richardson, Zak Keith, Amber Presley, and Ashley Barry.

Two panel members quoted below, Isaac Richardson and Ashley Barry, gave excellent advice on taking advantage of campus resources and not hesitating to ask for help. They also offered details of their financial struggles. Panel member Isaac Richardson stated, “Being first-generation, you don’t always know what resources are available or who to ask. Look for programs like TRiO or similar programs and get involved with student life on your campus.” Another panel member, Ashley Barry added, “My challenge was the financial part. I was unable to go to college when I first got out of high school due to the fact that I was unable to afford it and at that time I couldn't get a scholarship or anything like that. Then they came out with the TN Reconnect and that has helped me to go to college and get my dream job once I finish and graduate. So don't ever give up on your dreams, give it time and it will happen.”

Group of first-gen staff at Northeast State
On November 8, the Blountville, Elizabethton, Gray, and Kingsport campuses all had first-generation celebrations. The Blountville campus had a group photo of first-generation faculty, staff, and students. T-shirts, “I’m First” stickers and other campus information geared toward first-generation students were distributed to participants (faculty, staff, and students). The Elizabethton campus had a food-tasting event to celebrate first-generation day and it was a success and well attended. The Gray campus also distributed T-shirts, “I’m First” stickers and other campus information geared toward first-generation students. The Kingsport campus also distributed T-shirts, I'm First Stickers and other campus information geared toward first-generation students. All four campuses’ activities were successful and well attended.

First-generation college students often face many challenges to their success: financial difficulties; lack of awareness regarding available resources; and a lack of parental/ guardianship guidance, to name a few. By celebrating students (and many staff) who are first-generation, we are shining a light on individuals who overcome many hurdles, often “invisible” in nature. 

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