What does it mean to you have been a first-gen student?
Trumble: As a first-generation student, I studied hard and worked hard as well. I earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and an Executive Masters of Business Administration at the University of Wyoming. My education prepared me and gave me the confidence to start his own business. It also taught me how to learn and schedule my time.
Womack-Shultz: I didn’t think much about being a first-generation student. My parents stressed the importance of an education which is why I attended.
Kellner: In my family, education was/is extremely important. My parents understood that a good education was the ticket to a better job and life. They wanted my siblings and I do not live paycheck to paycheck like they did; they wanted us to have a better life.
Tilton: The joy of seeing my parents proud when I completed my degree meant a lot to me. I remember that I had to work and earn money to complete my degree.
Forbis: Every student should feel extremely proud, whether they are first-generation or not. It meant a lot to me as a first-generation student to complete a degree and that I was able to support my young family, at a young age, as a single mother.
Montgomery: It meant more to his parents than it did to me that I was a first-generation student. It was something that was expected of me. My siblings were also first-generation students who attended college.
What challenges do/did you encounter as a first-gen student?
Trumble: I didn’t encounter challenges as a first-generation student. Although my schooling was paid for and I took it for granted, looking back on it makes me realize how fortunate I was.
Womack-Shultz: I had to learn how to balance work and school which was a challenge for me. I had to make car payments. I was also homesick which created a challenge of another kind. I was able to overcome it and complete my education.
Kellner: One of the biggest challenges I encountered as a 1st gen student was a lack of experience of where to look for help. I was interested in playing college sports, but without experience, I did not know the process that was required to make that possible. I was uncomfortable asking for assistance and guidance.
Tilton: I felt like I was like any other student when it came to college challenges. However, having new freedom when I attended college caused me to have to be more responsible when it came to getting to class on time and doing my homework. Managing life on my own was also a challenge.
Forbis: One of the hardest challenges I had was knowing what classes to take and what classes would transfer. I had to figure my schedule out for myself. There was no Rustler Central at that time. Personal challenges included time management and how to pay your own bills.
Montgomery: The main challenge that I encountered as a first-generation student was having to work nearly full time and pay for school. It would have been nice to have had scholarships and not have to work as much. I also had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew I was expected to attend school.
What advice would you give to future first-gen students?
Trumble: I encourage students to make sure it is their choice to attend and not someone else’s. Students shouldn’t be pressured into it. I also think students should not be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of people who want to see students succeed. I would also encourage students to use their resources.
Womack-Shultz: One of the most important pieces of advice that I can share is the importance of making connections with classmates, tutors, and instructors at school. It’s vital to get involved and if you need help, ask for it.
Kellner: The advice I would give is to reach out for assistance if you have any questions. There are so many programs set up to assist students in preparing for college both academically and financially. There are even employees at colleges or technical colleges whose job it is to answer questions that potential students may have.
Tilton: Students need to know that education is not a gift, even if somebody else is paying for it. You have to work for it. It’s a job. If you don’t plan on working it won’t work. You need to go to college ready to work. Confucius said, “If you tell me I forget, show me I remember, let me do it, I understand.”
Forbis: I recommend that students find a faculty advisor they can trust and someone they can relate to. A faculty advisor can help with your schedules, obstacles, and finding resources. It is important not to put assignments off or it will snowball. Don’t get behind.
Montgomery: Believe in yourself and persist until you’re finished.
What are you most proud of being a first-gen student?
Trumble: The relationships I made and have kept are what I am most proud of as a 1st generation student.
Womack-Shultz: I am most proud of getting my degree and becoming a teacher.
Kellner: I am most proud of earning my master’s degree. My children were able to see me set a goal academically and achieve it. I have become a role model for my children and other 1st gen students.
Tilton: It meant a lot to me when I saw how proud my parents were of me when I completed my degree. I took great pride in earning a degree after a lot of work. I earned a B.A. in History, a M.S. in Education and an M.A. in English.
Forbis: I am most proud of the fact that I can support my family and have marketable skills. I am also proud that I am a role model for my kids as well.
Montgomery: I am proud that I paid my own way to attend school. I also didn’t owe any money when I was done. My education improved the quality of life for me and I am the only one in my family with an advanced degree.