Support For First-Generation Students
That “first” feeling can be a nerve-wracking one. The first day on a new job, the first conversation with a person you’ve just met, the first day of class for a first-generation college student.
The FIG program is a College of Liberal Arts-specific initiative that provides incoming, first-generation freshmen a learning community that provides a network of faculty, advisors and administrators in partnership with students.
These students are the first in their families to pursue an undergraduate degree at a university. Almost 30 percent of all liberal arts majors are first-generation.
The FIG effort is headed up by Leroy G. Dorsey, associate dean for inclusive excellence and strategic initiatives. Dorsey said his goal is to help the first-generation students who suffer from “imposter syndrome.”
“These are students who are at this university, but they don’t quite believe they’re good enough to be here,” Dorsey said. “The hope is that we can instill in them a confidence that they can free themselves of the imposter syndrome… and to provide them a seamless transition between what they knew as high school students and what they will be experiencing at this research institution.”
Gunnar Baker ‘22, a political science major and first-generation student, said the FIG program helped bridge the gap of entering into an unknown college experience. It also provided a security net that enabled him to do things he wouldn’t have done otherwise.
“Knowing that I have the support of one of the deans of the College of Liberal Arts is such a satisfying feeling,” Baker said. “Knowing that I can go to him at a time of need — and he personally knows me because of the FIG program.”
Similarly, Ivoree Hernandez ‘22 said that Dorsey and other faculty members are there to remind first-generation students that they are brave, strong and going to flourish in this new experience.
“The first word that comes to mind [about first-generation students] is bravery,” she said. Hernandez’s mother was afraid to send her daughter off into the unknown world of college, but the FIG program also invites parents to experience the university, learn about the community that is formed and gain insight on what the students will experience.
“The College of Liberal Arts is a college that intersects the lines of thinking that will make us better as a people,” Dorsey said. “The FIG program does the same thing. FIG students will be successful in whatever they do because of this program, and because of the College of Liberal Arts.”