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First generation students find community on campus

Sally Kershner
Features Editor

This semester, students have come together to form the First Generation Students Organization (FGSO), a group that aims to combat the issues and struggles of students who are the first in their family to attend college.

On April 26, FGSO will host their first event in Babcock that will allow for students to get to know the initiative behind FGSO and gauge what the Wooster community can benefit from this organization.

“Transitioning to college is difficult for anyone, but for first-generation students, it’s especially difficult. Too often first-gens are vastly unprepared for the transition and end up dropping out, and that is something we wanted to combat,” said Co-President Emilee McCubbins ’20.

Co-Presidents McCubbins and Margie Sosa ’20 are taking the initiative to organize a community first generation students can seek comfort and understanding in. Advised by Professor Medina, FGSO executive board also includes Alberto Peralta ’20 as treasurer, Andre Baronov ’20 as secretary and Emily Gamez ’20 as public relations commissioner.

Both McCubbins and Sosa recognize that it is a challenge in itself for first generation students to get into college, but notes that there is another challenge in keeping first generation students at college.

“Because The College of Wooster has successfully been making an effort to increase the socioeconomic and racial diversity of its student body, I realized that we put all of our focus on getting first-generation students into college, but do very little to keep these students here,” said Sosa.

To encourage and guide first generation students, FGSO plans on hosting workshops about FAFSA, discussion panels, study breaks and various social events to bring the first generation student community together.

After becoming further established on campus, FGSO also hopes to branch out to the local community by working with high school seniors applying for college and financial aid.

They also are planning to invite alumni Jim DeRose to speak about his experience at The College of Wooster as a first generation student. Bringing in DeRose would be real life evidence of how first generation students that have attended the College can succeed.

FGSO is dedicated to working with students of all familial backgrounds, aiming to educate others on the stigmas that are attached to being a first generation student.

“Most of the stigma around being a first-gen lies in racist and/or classist views; that first-gens are lazy and poor and that our families simply don’t care about education, otherwise they’d ‘just go to college,’” said McCubbins. “A lot of people don’t realize just how hard we have to work to get to the same place they have. By presenting ourselves as serious, professional individuals with a plan, we can combat all the unfortunate and vastly untrue ideas people have about people like us.”

Dispelling these stigmas associated with first generation students allows other students to realize that while it is common for first generation students to come from a lower income or minority family, first generation students can come from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Next semester, FGSO plans to work with the Center of Diversity and Inclusion and Student Government Association to collaborate on different social events and programming related to first generation students.

For any questions or concerns, email Sosa at MSosa20@wooster.edu or McCubbins at EMccubbins20@wooster.edu.

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