By Rachel Nguyen, Contributing Writer
Last week, from Nov. 7 to Nov. 12, the Office of Multicultural Engagement (OME) organized a first-generation week to celebrate National First-Generation Day on Nov. 8. OME decided to dedicate a week instead of a day—like many other institutions do—for this event.
“Although these programs are designed for first-generation students, they’re open to all students regardless of their intersecting identities. What’s good for first-generation students is good for all students,” said Director of the Office of Multicultural Engagement Shantanique Johnson.
OME offered information tabling in CUB on Monday and in the library on Wednesday to provide information on OME and the support they offer for first-gen students.
OME also provided events for professional headshots to update the students’ profiles on LinkedIn pages. The office collaborated with the Center for Career Engagement on activities like networking with alumni and parents, writing cover letters and resume building. OME also partnered with the Center for Global Education to present information on studying abroad.
Kenzie Smith ‘26 noted that she wanted more programming for first-generation students earlier in the semester.
“As a first-gen student, I appreciate these events taking place, but I wish something similar would have occurred earlier in the year. I’ve had a hard time adjusting to college, and knowing the resources available to me at the beginning of the year would have been more helpful than these events only taking place toward the end of the semester,” Smith said.
First-Gen week is also meant to raise awareness surrounding the struggles not only of students who are the first in their families to go to college but also the international students who are accessing the American education system for the first time.
“I think a lot of times first-generation students put a lot of expectations on themselves to do well because of the first to go to college. Some of them have to support family members at home,” OME Program Coordinator Amanda Shull said. OME provides financial help such as the Bryant fund for internships, book lending or book purchase funds, and even basic necessities.
As a first-gen student herself, Johnson is aware of the mental struggle of the first-gen students.
“There’s also this sense of like, non-death grief that first-generation students felt because they felt like they’re losing their home, their community, and then they’re gaining obviously experiences at college. But then there’s still dislike where they don’t have this complete sense of belonging here, and where they used to have it, it’s kind of dwindling as well. And so it’s this weird sense of grief that takes place for first-gen students that’s difficult to navigate,” said Johnson.