Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier deputy news editor
On Tuesday, the First-Generation Student Group met for the first time. This group aims to connect first-generation students with resources that may be available to them, as well as being a space for them to share their experiences as first-generation college students. They hope to be able to invite alumni who were also first-generation students to talk about graduate school, networking and life after Berry.
The overarching goal of this group is to connect students to resources that they might not know are available to them, as well as help connect students to each other and find people that can relate to their experiences. Sophomore Bree Estrada said that experiences such as studying abroad can seem like an extra expense that is unavailable to them. She hopes to be able to help point students in the right direction when it comes to these experiences by helping them find financial aid.
Estrada also wants the group to just be a generally positive space for students to come and share experiences, and understand they all are embarking on a new and unfamiliar experience by coming to college. It can be difficult at times because students can’t really talk to their family about college, so Estrada would like the group to be the support.
“It will be a very diverse community with an issue that we can all relate on,” Estrada said.
Sophomore Haven Hendrix hopes to be able to bring in Berry alumni who were also first-generation students to host seminars. She hopes these seminars will help students make connections and understand things they can do once they graduate from Berry, such as attend graduate school or jobs that they’re interested in. Hendrix said that she noticed friends’ whose parents were able to help them get internships or jobs, and that is something that a lot of first gen students don’t have. Bringing in alumni can help bridge the gap these students have when it comes to connections in various industries.
“There’s a lot of things I realized on a weekly basis that I did not know when it comes to career stuff, academic stuff and just functioning in college in general,” Hendrix said.
As Estrada explained, first generation students have a much different experience than others. Parents are completely new to the application process and are learning along with the student. Application fees and other payments are surprising, and they are unable to help with essays beyond a grammar and spelling check, as they aren’t sure what colleges are looking for. Financial aid is new to them, and many students are unsure of what types of scholarships apply to them. The idea of sending their child off to college is also intimidating for many parents, as they are unsure what to expect. The only image they have of college is from movies, which can be quite far from the reality of college life.
“They haven’t gone through it before so they’re worried,” Estrada said. “They ask a lot of questions, they message a lot, they call a lot, and sometimes they even want you to go home a lot, so that could be a little distracting.”
Although it can be difficult, Hendrix says that it offers her a unique insight that she can use in the future. When applying to internships, jobs or even just interacting in class, she is able to provide a different view that other students might not have.
Hendrix also says that the culture of Berry has been very opening and welcome for first-generation students. The financial aid and support offered on campus is a great benefit. When discussing the group with staff, every member she interacted with was excited for the potential and opportunities this group can offer.