First-generation mentoring program strive to provide opportunities for students who are the first among their family to go to a four-year university, helping them successfully transition into university and do well while they are in the university.
The Center for First-generation Student Success named Washburn University as a First Forward institution, which made Washburn First-generation mentoring program get recognized nationally.
“It is an honor of everyone here and work for first generation students. So, it may start out as just kind of is anyone doing anything interesting. And it develops in an organic manner. But it only happens because the Washburn community is working hard on this topic and is committed to first generation students,” stated professor Alan Bearman, professor of history and the dean of University Libraries and the Center for Student Success and Retention at Washburn University.
“This is really a recognition of the whole university. And it’s a recognition of our heart, people from all over the campus, from the academics in the classrooms, Student Life, and One Stop. It’s a recognition of how hard it was working trying to help first-generation students succeed. So, I would want people to really proud about their efforts… This recognition means that we get access to other great schools that we can learn more from, so that we can do more good. And I would want students to know, especially the first-generation students, that this is the right place for them, because we are working hard to help them, and we care about them,” said Bearman.
There was a first-generation student who has graduated from Washburn. Bearman met her in her first semester. She was struggling a little bit because she was overwhelmed by everything.
“She was so lacking in confidence, not in ability, she had tons of ability. And over time, working with her, getting her mentor… her confidence started to build. When she walked cross the stage got her diploma, she looked me right in the eyes and said thank you… I never will forget her eyes… she was just like a different person,” said Bearman.
Jessica De La Rosa, junior, double major in communication and sociology, minor in history, is a first-generation student at Washburn.
“I know there are lots of first-generation students that don’t really want to come out and say, I need help, or I don’t even know what this is… Just ask for help. Don’t be afraid of anything… Don’t be afraid to speak up, make more connections,” said Rosa, “That’s another beneficial thing that my mentor brought me, a lot of connections, a lot of people I met because of her, a lot of knowledge to law school. I mean, she gave me a lot. She opened doors for that and I am thankful for it.”
“Believe in yourself, you can do this. Go to class, ask for help, but believe in yourself, and we are here to help,” said Bearman.