MNSU welcomes first generation of students

Michael McShane
Staff Writer

Being the first person in your family to go to college can be both equally exciting and overwhelming. 

Luckily for Minnesota State University, Mankato students, there are a group willing to give them a helping hand.

Maverick Firsts held its first meeting Friday, Sept. 20 to speak about first generation students and the support they can receive from the committee. The event, held in Ostrander Auditorium, started at noon and went on until 1:50 p.m.

Students attending the event were greeted at the entrance to the auditorium and given a folder with information on what it really means to be a first-generation college student at a four-year university.

David Engen, a professor in MNSU’s Communications Studies department, is one of the creators of the event and was the keynote speaker at the event where he spoke on the challenges that first generation students face.

“A lot of times the families of first-generation students, as smart and as supportive as they are, can’t help you with insider knowledge about college,” Engen said.

Engen, a first-generation student himself, spoke to the crowd about how he himself had to go through college on his own as his parents, while supportive, had no experience about the ins and outs of university life and thus could not help him navigate through college.

Engen made it a point in his speech that not all first-generation students need help and are able to go through college like any other student, but services should be there for first generation students if or when they need it.

“We don’t want to say all first-generation students have all of these struggles, but some do, and a group like Maverick Firsts is here to help,” Engen said.

Finishing his speech, he turned the mic over to Ana Leyva, a senior at MNSU and a member of Maverick First’s committee. 

Leyva addressed the crowd and had the audience do a 5-minute icebreaker where the audience stood up and talked and got to know each other.

After the icebreaker session, Leyva then led a student panel of first-generation students to allow students in the audience the chance to hear from students their age the experiences they have had and what they’ve learned at their time in MNSU.

The five-person panel answered questions from Leyva. One of the questions asked was what advices they would give to build a community or mentorships with other people on campus.

“There’s really something to be said about just sitting down and having a conversation with someone and truly being able to ask them about themselves and make that strong connection,” Abdul Rahmane Abdul-Aziz, one of the panelists, said.

Other questions asked during the half-hour long panel consisted of what locations on campus were the panelist’s personal favorite to how to study properly and saving money.

After the half-hour panel commenced, attendees were treated to cake outside the auditorium and asked to come to the next meeting of Maverick Firsts. 

Those involved in Maverick Firsts believe this to be an excellent way to take some pressure off first-generation students with some in the organization wishing they had something similar to Maverick Firsts when they first started college.

“I think that if I had this my freshman year, if I had Maverick Firsts, I probably would have dealt with a lot less nerves and anxiety,” Taylor Perrin, another student who helps with Maverick Firsts, said.

Perrin believes now that there are student leaders willing to lend a hand, first-generation students who are struggling can get the support that they need.

Header photo by Mansoor Ahmad | MSU Reporter.

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