UWL host second panel for first-generation students


UWL First-Generation Organization logo.

Julia Balli, General Assignment Reporter

On April 9, an informative panel was held at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse to inform first-generation students of their resources. UWL Professors Matthew Cashion and Rebecca LeDocq, spoke at the panel about their experiences being a first-generation student while they were in college, and shared their advice with the first-generation students attending the panel. 

“I hope this panel will allow first generation students a chance to be listened to. They’ll also get to meet professors who were first generation students who can empathize with the occasional challenges they face,” said UWL English Professor Cashion. 

“Panels like this one, I hope, should prove that there are plenty of people on this campus who are eager to see all students succeed. I hope that sharing some of our stories will encourage them to share some of theirs as well,” said Cashion.  

There are many programs on campus that provide resources for first-generation students. The Student Support Program (SSS) is a part of the Division of Diversity and Inclusion and works to provide educational opportunities to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.  

According to the UWL website“[SSS] services are designed to enhance academic skills, increase retention, increase graduation rates, and facilitate entrance into graduate and professional programs.” 

Many colleges have begun to develop support systems for first-generation students. “I don’t think there was nearly as much help as there is now. I can’t say that the university I attended didn’t have them, I just didn’t know about them,” said UWL professor of Mathematics & Statistics LeDocq. 

Another program that helps first-generation students is the McNair Scholars program. This program supports UWL juniors or seniors looking to attend graduate school that are “low-income, first-generation, and/or members of a traditionally underrepresented group in their field,” according to the UWL website. 

“All these programs are wonderful, but they do require an application, which is usually easy to fill out but nonetheless, I found that students feel like an application-based program is more intimidating, which is why my friend and I started the First-Generation Organization two years ago, said UWL junior and President of the First-Generation Organization, Karena Malluege, “We are an open club on campus for any first-generation student who wants to build a community with their peers. 

Finding a good support system is essential for a first-generation student’s success. “I think the main issue first-generation students have, or at least I had, was feeling like you were the only one going through your struggles. Kind of a “me against the world” mentality,” said Malluege, I think finding people who have a similar background is super important to feel connected to our campus and realizing that a lot of our professors also went through what we did is kind of a relief! Knowing that you’re not alone and that there are people and resources everywhere on campus is very encouraging.” 



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