BBCC celebrates National First-Generation Day
MOSES LAKE — Big Bend Community College TRIO Student Support Services, TRiO Upward Bound and WSU Gear Up at BBCC honored first-generation students and graduates during a celebration Tuesday evening, marking National First-Generation College Celebration Day.
First-Generation Day is celebrated on college campuses across the country each November as a way to recognize the success of first-generation students as well as the contributions made on respective campuses by first-generation faculty and staff. The annual celebration was started in 2017 by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-Generation Student Success.
This was Big Bend’s third campus-wide celebration in honor of First-Generation Celebration Day.
TRIO SSS director Veronica Guadarrama said it is important to celebrate the success of first-generation students but also bring awareness to some of the challenges they face.
A lot of the time first-generation students don’t have anyone to help them navigate the college application or financial aid process, and they can have difficulty fitting in and adapting to college life once they get there. There can also be feelings of not being worthy of an education or feelings of guilt over leaving their family responsibilities at home.
“Being first-generation is not a bad thing. You might feel like you don’t belong or like you are challenged more than others,” said Guadarrama. “But because you are facing adversity, you are actually more powerful.”
During the event, attendees got to hear from a panel of first-generation graduates who participated in TRIO and Gear Up programs. Panelists shared some of the unique struggles they faced being the first in their families to attend college and some of the strategies they used to overcome those struggles.
Attendees also heard from Big Bend President Dr. Sara Thompson Tweedy, who shared her parents’ story of being first-generation students and how their persistence paved the way for her to also earn a college degree.
She told students they are doing the same thing for those that come after them.
“Thank you for celebrating the success of being a college student. Let’s take it one step further and pledge that we will also celebrate your becoming a graduate,” she said. “In doing so, you will be setting the stage, not just for yourself, but for the people in your families and communities to do so as well.”
Moses Lake Gear Up student achievement specialist and first-generation graduate Rosa Valdivia reminded students that they were not alone in their academic journey. She encouraged them to find programs and staff at their colleges who could help with both academic and personal challenges.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “There are a lot of support systems around. There’s always somebody that can and want to help you.”