The Diversity Center plans on expanding the Necessary Steps Mentoring program to include a First-Generation Connection Series. The new program is intended to link first-generation college students with first-generation faculty. A first-generation college student or faculty member, according to Samaryia Magee, the Necessary Steps Program Advisor, is defined as any student whose parent/guardian has not graduated with a baccalaureate degree from a four-year college or university.
The First-Generation Connection Series will consist of a series of panels every semester. The first panel will consist of three to four first-generation faculty members answering student questions about life as a first-generation college student, among other things. The goal is to demonstrate that “your professor is more similar to you than you think, and having those professors as someone to look up to, to know your professors were once where you are today, can set a good example.” The program also hopes to create signage that will identify the offices of first-generation faculty.
The Necessary Steps program was created in 2009 under the Vice Chancellor of student affairs, Dr. Clarice Ford. The goal of the program is to help first-generation college students adapt to the challenges of college and properly integrate into the UIS community. Participants in the program attend a class on diversity, the college experience, and academic success, along with attending various social events. Students in the program are also assigned a mentor to help them with the process of adjusting to college life.
When asked what the main thing she hoped students would take away from this series, Magee said: “We want students to know that the faculty is here to help you and there may be faculty that are just like you. Just knowing you have that support and bridging the gap between faculty and students, with UIS already being a small liberal arts college, can bring the community even closer than it already is.” The Diversity Center is still seeking faculty members for the panel, and hope to getting one from each of the colleges at UIS. If you are a faculty member interested in being a part of the First-Generation Connection Series please visit: go.uis.edu/firstgenfaculty.