Holly Feola – News Editor
First-generation college students gathered last month for group discussions in the Science and Technology Center to celebrate their presence on campus. In addition to the25 first-generation students attending were several administrators who were the first in their family to graduate from college, Jesse Tauriac (Assistant Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer), Dave Hennessey (Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs), Helena Santos (Assistant Vice President and Dean of Academic Success), Thomas Morgan (Assistant Director of the Donahue Center), Victoria Turnquist (Academic Advisor), Donnell Turner, (Director Career Services) and Jenny Granger (Director Of Student Activities and Orientation).
A ‘ first-gen’ college student is an individual whose parents haven’t received a college degree. At Lasell, 43.3 percent of undergraduate students are first-generation college students.
Tauriac organized this celebration since he is first-gen himself. When he was asked about his inspiration for this event, he said that his son’s school had a similar event for first-gen students and thought to bring it here to Lasell.
“My dissertation and research focused on the experiences of first-generation college students, I’ve done the research on it, I have presented on it, and I’ve facilitated workshops on it. For me, this is near and dear to my heart,” said Tauriac.
During the event, students broke into small groups with faculty members with discussion-based questions about what being a first-gen student means to them. Once they were done conversing, they had a larger conversation with everyone. Combining all of the groups allowed students to hear more stories from their peers as well as faculty members.
Senior Tarahfinah Destine said the event was a good opportunity for great conversation. Destine wished they had an event like this her first year since it would have introduced her to other first-gen students.
In the middle of their discussion questions, they talked about impostor syndrome, which is when a person questions their achievements and is constantly afraid of being revealed as a fraud. Some students related to this idea, even though they deserve to attend college.
When senior Julissa Salazar talked abouther experiences as a first-gen student, she compared it to her time she studied abroad. Sometimes, when a first-gen college student first arrives to college, they may feel confused, as if they don’t belong, but eventually that feeling goes away.
Going off of what Salazar shared, Destine said, “even being a first-generation college student is like a culture shock within itself.”
“I think that for first-generation college students, often times there’s a tendency to put pressure on ourselves to feel as if we have to do it ourselves. My recommendation is to push through any of those feelings of reluctance and to really seek that help out,” said Tauriac.
A follow up event will be held on Tues., Nov. 12.