First-generation students make up 46% of Texas State’s undergrad body and in 2018, 2568 of 6152 incoming first-year students were first-generation. Pell Grants, work-study and low-interest student loans opened doors for first generation students through The Higher Education Act (HEA) signed by Texas State alumnus LBJ.
Jose Daniel Moreno a TXST senior graduating in December with a bachelor’s degree in digital media innovations sat down to talk about his experience being a first-generation student about to graduate.
Moreno sums up the first-generation student experience as “Scary but also exiting”
“Being a first-generation student can be difficult at times because other students are better equipped to go into college or are more comfortable with the idea.”
Jose also talked about particular struggles he faced during his time at Texas State.
“Registering for classes and applying for graduation has been difficult because I’ve had to figure it out myself or ask other students”
Texas State not only has first-generation students but also many first-generation professors, one of them being Dr. Micaela Vargas.
Dr. Micaela Vargas, Texas State University graduate and faculty in the biology department took time out her busy schedule which includes helping and overseeing molecular bio research on top of being a professor at Texas State to talk about her personal journey as a first-generation student.
“First one in my family, immediate and extended to graduate high school, let alone achieve and obtain a PH. D”
Dr. Vargas opened up about her personal first-generation journey to success and her biggest motivation along the way.
“I attribute a lot of my hard work, dedication and focus to my grandparents”
“My grandparents were migrant farm workers from south Texas to Idaho”
“You always think back at how hard your support system and it just drives you and puts you on that path to work harder.”
“I surrounded myself with a support system, I made friends who were going to be there and hear me out, people who I can relate to and were going through the same trials and tribulations of being a first-generation student.”
“Having the resources now on campus, we didn’t have that, and I wish we had services or resources such as student support services and the PACE center.”
Dr. Vargas is a proud advocate and supporter of the 2019 F1rst Bobcat Proud that aims to connect and support the first-generation community here at Texas State.
In early 2019, F1rst Bobcat Proud debuted at Texas State as a resource dedicated to first-generation students.
At the First-Gen Breakfast hosted at the Quad, Elaina Acevedo, a F1rst Bobcat Proud member perusing a family and child development major mentioned her favorite Texas State resource as a first-generation.
“My favorite resource has been Bobcat Bounty, they give out free groceries every week and that has helped me tremendously, not having to spend as much money on groceries every week has helped me save money.”
Bobcat Bounty is a student-run, on-campus food pantry at Texas State that sources food from Hay County food bank.
The pantry is located in room FCS 187 of the Family Consumer Sciences building. Pantry operations are on Thursday evenings from 5-7pm.
Acevedo also shared her perseverance to continue despite the many first-generation obstacles she faces.
“I want to be a teacher more than anything and there’s nothing that’s going to prevent me from doing that”
Even though F1rst Bobcat Proud and Bobcat Bounty are major resources first-generation students can have access to on campus, many organizations such as College Forward have been actively present here at Texas State aiding such students through peer mentors and academic coaches.
College Forward is a non-profit organization dedicated to underrepresented students such as first-gens. On October 30, 2019, the organization was awarded the annual Evergreen Prize that awards $125K to programs that best help low-income youth access and complete college or vocational degrees.
Former college forward student that remembers college forward being an “encouraging atmosphere in a time when she didn’t feel as confident in her skills and abilities.”
Now as the completion program manager, Sierra would love to empower the coaches even more by cultivating a bigger support system for alumnus and collegiate perusing a graduate program.