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Published July 01, 2019
The University of Wyoming’s Learning Resource Network (LeaRN) is introducing a new program for first-generation students this fall.
First Gen Scholars is designed to support the 30-35 percent of students on campus who are first in their families to attend college.
Makayla Stewart, LeaRN programs manager, created the First Gen Scholars program to support students in their transition to college and to be a resource for students through their UW academic careers. First-generation students at UW are those whose parents did not complete bachelor’s degrees.
“The goal of First Gen Scholars is to help students feel comfortable and confident on campus,” Stewart explains. “It is a way to bridge the gap that first-generation students may experience.”
Students who participate in activities and track their involvement can enter a drawing to receive textbook scholarships.
“Scholarships from $50-$250 can be earned by participants,” Stewart says.
Six First Gen Scholars peer mentors are matched with incoming students and serve as important resources for program participants.
“The peer mentors are sophomore and older students who also are first-generation students,” Stewart says. “They remember having a million questions and, perhaps, feeling a little overwhelmed during their freshman year. The peer mentors are here to answer questions, give advice and connect students to resources and activities on campus.”
Last fall, Stewart approached Residence Life and Dining Services personnel about adding a specialty floor in the residence halls for first-generation students. Associate Director of Residence Life and Dining Services Rian Rabideau offered to dedicate the Tobin House, a former sorority house, to first-generation students rather than simply one floor of a residence hall, Stewart says.
“We thought it would be a better way to support first-generation students because of the vast amount of community space that can be used for academics and social connections,” Rabideau says.
“I’m thrilled that Residence Life decided to make the Tobin House the first living and learning community for first-generation students on campus,” Stewart adds.
To learn more about First Gen Scholars, and to learn more tips and resources for first-generation students and their parents, visit www.uwyo.edu/firstgeneration.