The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
June 6, 2024

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders stands out as a prime prospect for the 2025 NFL Draft, and it’s no surprise he's the current favorite...

Students evaluate University support on First-Generation Day

Students from all across campus came together Friday to celebrate National First-Generation Day at Colorado State University, sharing their struggles, celebrating their triumphs and acknowledging the headway the University still needs to make.

men stands behind a frame reading National First-Generation College Celebration
First-generation students Abele Mamo, Josh Oldehoff and Hasim Adams pose for a photo in celebration of National First-Generation Day Nov. 8. They noted that being a first-generation means a great work ethic and an appreciation for education. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

The First-Generation Day celebration at The Plaza was filled with professors, faculty and first-generation students showing their pride as they played games, participated in activities and shared their experiences at CSU. 

Ad

President Joyce McConnell also made an appearance to show solidarity and support for first-generation students.

“I love these opportunities to interact with students and hear their stories,” McConnell said.

First-generation students at CSU come from all different backgrounds and have many different stories, but the one thing they all share is being the first in their families to attend college.

“I have six brothers and sisters, (and) I’m the oldest,” said Jose Martinez, a first-generation student and senior social work major at CSU. “I was the first to join the military. I’m going to be the first to graduate college, and I take a lot of pride in that because my siblings look up to me.”

Like Martinez, many students share the pride that comes with being a first-generation student in the family. This includes Jaquikeyah Fields, a junior political science major at CSU and first-generation student, who said being the oldest of 10 siblings has pushed her to be the best role model she can be for them.

But being a first-generation student can come with its burdens.

“I don’t feel like first-generation students are supported the way that they need to (be) when incidents of bias affect those who are marginalized.” -Jaquikeyah Fields, first-generation student, ASCSU senator

“They’re not as open and willing to fully accept new ideas,” said Reed Featherston, a first-generation student and junior engineering major at CSU. “When I first came home as a freshman, there was the ‘there’s my boy, the college student.’ Now, it’s this ‘person that has this sort of standing that’s more.’ So, it’s been an interesting dynamic.”

Family dynamics can have a big impact on the success of first-generation students at CSU, said Ryan P. Barone, vice president for Student Affairs.

man stands behind a frame reading National First-Generation College Celebration
First-generation student Saulo Perez Balderas poses for a photo in celebration of National First-Generation Day Nov. 8. (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

Barone said that race, gender, socioeconomic standing and the marginalization of groups can also play a role in students’ outcomes.

Ad

Despite the opportunities the school provides, Fields, an Associated Students of CSU senator, said she firmly believes in protecting people who come from marginalized identities. Fields said the emphasis is on how the school looks rather than on the actual first-generation students a lot of the time. 

“I don’t feel like first-generation students are supported the way that they need to (be) when incidents of bias affect those who are marginalized,” Fields said. “There’s a lot of reconstruction that needs to be created, especially if first-generation or marginalized students are going to be the first thing you see on a pamphlet.”

Some faculty believe CSU holds responsibility for this.

“There’s not enough resources or even just support,” said Susana Ruvalcaba, an adviser at CSU.

But that doesn’t deter students from giving their all and succeeding despite the obstacles they face. Students invest time looking for communities that will help them thrive at CSU, and this could mean joining the Academic Advancement Center, the Student Disability Center, ASCSU, Adult Learner and Veteran Services and other organizations and communities. 

“We haven’t achieved perfection — we probably never will — but we’re constantly looking at it and trying to do better because the most important thing is that a student comes here and then succeeds.” -Joyce McConnell, CSU president

“If I didn’t have my community, the veterans and the adults and that engagement part of it, I don’t know if I would be as successful as I am,” said Martinez, who finds himself, a 27-year-old, surrounded by 18- to 21-year-olds. “It’s a support system that’s not just at home, not just in family. It’s something that’s here.” 

McConnell said the University is working every day to figure out more and more how to meet the needs of students at CSU so they can succeed.

woman next to a prize wheel
Access Center member Susana Ruvalcaba gets ready to give students a prize based on a wheel spin for a National First-Generation Day Celebration Nov. 8. A first-generation student herself, Ruvalcaba helps similar students and said “We like to celebrate our students.” (Ryan Schmidt | The Collegian)

“It evolves,” McConnell said. “We haven’t achieved perfection — we probably never will — but we’re constantly looking at it and trying to do better because the most important thing is that a student comes here and then succeeds.”

Barone said that although the University has been making efforts over the past decade to close opportunity gaps, progress has largely not been made. Nevertheless, opportunities for first-generation students are set to improve within the next couple of years.

“People who have been going to school generation after generation after generation, it’s just like second nature to them; it’s a step for them,” Martinez said. “Most of my peers are like ‘my dad went, my mom went,’ but for us, you had to make it happen”.

 

Gerson Flores Rojas can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @GersonFloresRo1.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *