The First-gen Takeover

Brandon Gaddy, M.Ed., Owens Community College / The Center / February 18, 2021

Owens Community College provided a week-long celebration of first-gen college students on the Owens Community College campus. From November 9th through November 13th, 2020, Owens Community College celebrated with the "First Gen Takeover.” Students, faculty, and staff are all in to support Owens Community College’s first-gen students. The Owens Community College week-long celebration was a collaboration with Owens offices that included TRIO Student Support Services, Counseling Services, The Disability Resource Center, Academic Advising, Veterans Services, The Fast Track Program, The Center for Campus and Community Connections, Career and Transfer Services, and The Owens Community College Foundation.

The entire week, faculty and staff who self-identified as a first-gen students or first-gen student advocates displayed a small logo of support in their email signature line. Faculty and staff who identified as an advocate had their names, positions, and email addresses published on the first-gen website as a first-gen student advocate.

Each day, Owens Community College highlighted a member of the Owens Community College community who is first-gen. Each day, one video and one photo was released via the official Owens Community College social media platforms. Videos from the week are available on the Owens Community College YouTube channel here. Infographics were released daily highlighting national first-gen student data as well as Owens Community College-specific first-gen student data.

A week full of virtual events were planned and included topics like mental health, dealing with impostor syndrome, veterans services and support, tools for the unique learner, career development and planning, and a session designed just for faculty and staff on advocating for first-gen students.

The final event of the week included a virtual presentation and discussion led by Dr. Ashley Benson, associate dean of students at the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH. This session, titled The Takeover Continues–Recruiting, Supporting, Empowering, and Advocating for First-gen Students, was open to the entire Owens Community College community. Dr. Benson's passion for working with first-gen students has grown into a lifelong commitment toward improving the support and experiences of first-generation college students.

Owens Community College students who attended any of the planned workshops or events and completed the online evaluation received a “First-gen Express” kit. First-Gen Express kits included an Owens Community College first-gen student T-shirt (provided by funding from the Owens Community College Foundation), an Owens Community College first-gen student folder, an Owens Community College first-gen student drawstring backpack, and additional Owens Community College items.

The 2020 Owens Community College First-Gen Takeover was a huge success. Students, faculty, and staff are already excited about the opportunity to build upon the success of this year. Here at Owens Community College, we believe “Success Starts Here,” and we are taking steps in the right direction to ensure that first-gen students in northwest Ohio believe this, too.

For more information on Owens Community College’s approach, please visit their website here.