College students have varying reasons why they pursue higher education. Many strive to better prepare themselves for their career by expanding on their knowledge in a specific field. For others, it means more than just that. Some may be the first in their family to do so.
Castleton’s first-generation college students had the opportunity to be recognized last Thursday during the nationwide First-Generation College Celebration.
Those who classify as first-generation students, meaning neither of their parents have a four-year college degree, were met in the campus center atrium with cookies, goodie bags, and pins. They also had the chance to write down what it means to them to be a first-generation student.
Each of their words, which were written on cards, were hung in the campus center for everyone to see.
Doe Dahm, the writing specialist in Castleton’s Academic Support Center, was responsible for holding this event.
“We want to recognize the achievements of first-generation students and the obstacles they’ve had to overcome,” she said. “Hopefully students see that they’re not alone, other people have overcome these obstacles. They can profit off these stories.”
Colleges across the nation held their own activities to celebrate these students. At Castleton, there was a tremendous outpour of support. According to Sarah Dunbar, a Castleton senior who works in the ASC, about half of Castleton’s student population are first-generation.
Students, faculty, and even President Scolforo wrote what it meant to them personally to be the first in their family to get a four-year degree.
Many of the cards did not have names.
“No matter your background, you can have the opportunity to get a higher education. I didn’t let my past determine my future,” said one card.
“Being able to have opportunities my parents have not had is such a privilege. I often hear my parents reflect that they wish they had pursued college but never had the support. I feel lucky to have the support that they did not have,” said another.
Many students said that they were proud to be doing something that no one else in their family has, they were happy to make their parents proud, and they were honored and privileged to pursue a valuable education beyond high school.
Other cards had more personal meaning to them.
“My mom attended college, but never got to finish because she became very ill. I always want to make my mom proud.” one said.