SRI Celebrates UA Little Rock First-Generation Students

Veronica Tess Myers is a first-generation student studying applied communication who attended the Nov. 8 celebration.

In honor of First-Generation College Student Celebration Day on Nov. 8, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Student Retention Initiatives hosted an event to celebrate the university’s first-generation students and employees.

The UA Little Rock Trio Student Support Services, Student Success Center, Care Team, and Learning Commons all participated alongside SRI by giving out information about their services.

The event was held beside the Learning Commons in Ottenheimer Library to show students the academic assistance available to them and encourage them to reach out to the staff if they’re struggling. The Learning Commons is home to the Communication Skills Center, Math Assistance Center, University Writing Center, World Languages Center, and Trojan Tutoring.

“Essentially, this is a one stop shop for all things student success, so we want students to be familiar with this space if they aren’t already,” said Tyler Harrison, associate director of Student Retention Initiatives.

About one-third of college students in the United States are first-generation, and these students have challenges that go beyond many of their peers.

“This is a demographic that needs to be recognized,” said Brandon Sollars, Learning Commons coordinator. “College is a big step, and it’s great to be here as a touchstone for them to find the support and resources they need or might need at some point. I think the university does a great job in providing a lot of these services, and this is just a good opportunity for us to get together and celebrate that.”

Students were encouraged to attend with free popcorn and baked goods, but they left with much more.

“My dad dropped out of high school, and my mom tried to get through college but never quite made it, so being able to get farther than either of my parents is a lot of pressure,” said Kayleigh Foster, a senior first-generation biology student. “It’s hard having to work for yourself and make your own money to support yourself and your education. It’s not handed to you; it’s difficult, especially when you don’t know how to manage your time between work and school. I feel like things like this event helps a lot. It’s a lot of weight off my shoulders knowing that other students are in a similar position, both financially and academically.”

Dalen Villa, a sophomore computer science student who popped in to check out the event, also mentioned his family and the effect they have had on his college career.

“I know I’m setting the next generation of my family up for success by being here. I’m doing this for them, and that’s my main motivation,” Villa said. “I feel a lot of pressure sometimes, but the fact that UA Little Rock does such a good job accommodating us is one of the main reasons I chose to come here instead of somewhere else.”

In the upper right photo, Veronica Tess Myers is a first-generation student studying applied communication who attended the Nov. 8 celebration. 

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