First Generation Fellows / UW Tacoma

I grew up in a military family. I lived
in Germany for 15 years and my dad decided to retire here in Washington. His
plans were for me to go to the military. It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to
pursue higher education. I had no support from my parents because of finances. They
didn’t want to like sign loans off for me, so I had to like apply to all
scholarships to make sure that I could get into a university. Half of my life I
lived in Seattle, so like middle school through high school, and then before that
I was in the Philippines. I came here when I was 11.
Being a First Generation Student for me means that your parents didn’t go to
college, or they didn’t go to college in the US, which is my parents case, so they
didn’t really help me with a lot of things. First Generation Fellows is a
group of First Gen students who are leading, and supporting, and celebrating,
empowering. We’re just doing all types of greatness to students who’ve never gone
to college before, and we do that through workshops through professional
development, we push them to talk to faculty as well. We just do a lot of
outreach to our students, freshmen or not. There’s not a lot of resources for First Gen on campus, or like in general, and so having that environment to be safe and
to be comfortable in, is a very, I think is very important for
First Generation students. My name is Vanida Pacheco. I am the
coordinator of First Generation Student Initiative. Our role is to make sure
that we support First Generation students or those students who are the
first in their family to graduate from college, that we support them in their
transition to college. That might be from high school, that might be as a transfer
student. Every month we host a monthly potluck in different departments of this
campus and the purpose of that was to build a sense of community. Being a
commuter campus, a lot of students kind of just come on campus, do their work, and
then leave. So, bringing this potluck, it was a way to feed students, it was a way
to build community between staff, students, and faculty, and it was also a
way for students to enter new spaces that are not familiar to them and
be less scared of doing that. One of the biggest events that we had last quarter
was the Swipe Right For Success. It’s like a speed-dating concept thing, so
like a few seconds later you move onto the next one, you move onto the next one,
until you find someone who can help you. This is like sort of a
networking event. We’re very fortunate that we have a huge community of
advocates on this campus that are dedicated to the success of the First
Generation students, so I think this is gonna be great.
It has been fantastic, and we’re going to continue growing to meet the needs of
our students and our faculty and our staff.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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