This year, Pacific University celebrates its’ second annual First-Gen Student Success Conference. Following the accomplishment of last year’s conference, the First-Gen Student Success Association set out to organize an even larger event with hopes of attracting students across both Washington and Multnomah counties.
On Nov. 8, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., first-generation students are invited to attend workshops and an informative panel to learn more about the resources available for them. In consideration of the many obstacles first-gen students face in navigating the route to college, this conference acts as a support system for students’ decision-making process.
Students were mailed formal invitations and registration information regarding this event. High-school students and counselors all across Washington and Multnomah County, current Pacific University students, and Portland Community College students were all among those invited, and the three distinct tracks of this conference hope to meet the specific needs of these various groups.
For current high-school students, the agenda is jam-packed with insightful workshops including how to apply to college, the different types of financial aid and personal finance. Mike Shingle, advisor for the First-Gen Student Success Association shared how important it is that this conference prioritizes, “hitting on financials twice.”
“Paying for college seems so mystical sometimes,” Shingle described. “So part of this conference is to give information on scholarship options.”
Current Pacific students can look forward to similar workshops on topics such as applying to graduate school, financial aid options, personal finance and how to obtain an internship.
The internship workshop will be hosted by a member of the Career Development Center on campus, and hopes to encourage younger students to find internships sooner rather than later.
All attendees of this conference will also have the opportunity to listen to a panel of selected first-gen Pacific students and staff discuss what it’s like navigating college as the first in your family.
“That will have hopefully impactful stories,” Shingle mentioned while describing the benefits of this year’s panel. “And it’ll include ways that people can share similar experiences.”
To ensure this event’s inclusivity for our diverse community, the First-Gen Student Success Association will be hosting the admissions and financial aid related workshops in both English and Spanish.
“Being inclusive in the language aspect was something that we learned a lot about last year,” Shingle shared. “This is super impactful to be able to provide sessions in a language that somebody is more confident in.”
The conference also hopes to emphasize the many scholarship options that are available to first-gen students of all backgrounds.
“It’s not just thinking about traditional methods, like the FAFSA,” Shingle said. “It’s also the ORSA for students who are Dreamers.”
After the formality of the panel and the workshops, the conference also provides a free dinner to attendees. The dinner acts as an informal way to communicate with first-gen students and staff on campus and provide a comfortable environment to answer questions.
With such a large population of first-gen students — one out of every four students on the Forest Grove campus — Pacific ensures a myriad of resources are available to them year-round.
With a collection of first-gen staff, the First-Gen Student Success Association, and the required meetings with Academic and Career Advisors, Pacific attempts to pave the way to success for students in a supportive environment.
As Shingle urged, this conference is vital for ensuring that first-gen students “know they’re not in it alone, know there are other people who support them, and know other people understand.”