Vanguard University's First-Generation College Celebration
Vanguard University Hosts Second Annual National First-Generation College Celebration:
On November 7, 2019, Vanguard’s first-generation college student advocacy group, FIRST2VU, put on an event to celebrate and congratulate the student body’s first-generation college students. The campus was adorned with multiple posters and a massive banner hung directly over the students’ most popular hang-out spot, the Scott Courtyard, in order to advertise the school’s proud support. Vanguard’s first-generation students were given a chance to meet each other and be acknowledged by faculty--including the University President Mike Beals, who is a first-generation college student himself.
Vanguard has always made it a point to highlight the success of first-generation college students, which makes sense, given the fact that first-generation students make up 65% of Vanguards faculty and nearly half of Vanguard’s current student body. The school Provost, Dr. Pete C. Menjares, who is also a first-generation college student, made sure to highlight this in an email earlier during the week addressed to all students, faculty, and staff.
The FIRST2VU club president, Sandra Camacho, explained that one of the most difficult challenges she faces being a first-generation college student is the feeling of being out of her element and comfort zone while trying to navigate through college. Because many other first-generation college students face similar problems, the event was designed to help make these students feel welcomed and at home. Sandra’s favorite part of the celebration was passing out cupcakes to celebrate the students and “being able to make the students aware that being a first-generation college student is an amazing thing and not something to be ashamed of."
Amanda Lebrecht, associate dean of student success and club advisor to FIRST2VU, explained that challenges like completing FASFA, finding scholarships, and securring financial aid do not come as easily to students whose parents have not gone to college and often require some time to get used to. Despite these challenges, she was proud to express that FIRST2VU offers an environment where first-generation college students can truly feel like they are “one of many” and do not have to navigate college alone.
Enrique Rodriguez, Academic Transition Coordinator and club advisor to FIRST2VU, aims to create a welcoming space to connect and engage with first-generation college students. He shares, “as a first-generation college student I faced a lot of challenges. I made it a point to find people on campus who shared similar experiences so that I could feel comfortable asking them for help especially on navigating college.”
Although this event was carried out successfully, advocacy for first-generation college students will not stop there. FIRST2VU plans to continue to serve and celebrate the first-generation college students at Vanguard in more ways in the future.
Be sure to follow them on Instagram: @FIRST2VU.