As a first generation college student, Angelica Galvan recognized the needs of other Penn State students like her.
That’s why she and a group of students in the College of Education decided to form the First Gen Advocates — a mentorship program for undergraduate first generation students — in the spring of 2018.
The club is in its second year as an active student organization and meets once a month on Mondays.
College students who are the first in their families to attend college often face a multitude of challenges upon starting school, such as financial hardships, social discrimination, and achieving a balance between work and classes.
However, First Gen Advocates seeks to combat these challenges.
The organization provides these students with a trained mentor in the same area of study as them or with the same interests, as well as resources such as workshops, seminars and activities.
Galvan (graduate-counselor education and supervision) is now the treasurer of the club.
“Members do not have to be first gen students, but many of us are, and we recognize the challenges many undergraduates face when they are the first in their families to go to college,” Galvan said via email. “We focus on mentorship. We have a large community of graduate students, staff and faculty from various colleges who are available as mentors for undergraduate first gen students.”
Dynisty Wright , the president of First Gen Advocates, said the organization is beneficial to both graduate and undergraduate students.
“[Graduate students] get to help in the development and success of a [first generation] student in all their endeavors,” Dynisty Wright (graduate-biology) said. “[Undergraduate students] get the resources that [the First Gen Advocates] have and that can help them on their journey through college.”
Isaac Wright , the First Gen Advocates vice president, found out about the club through a newsletter. He said the club helps first generation students in many facets of life — not just school.
“We have had mentors help students do things like apply for graduate schools, as well as help them learn to budget and start investing at an early age,” Isaac Wright (graduate-statistics) said.
First Gen Advocates is the only organization on campus that supports first generation students. For the group, more members means more resources provided to an often underrepresented student population.
“I joined [First Gen Advocates] in the fall of 2018,” Dynisty said. “I am a first generation college student, and I was looking for ways to help the students in ways I was not helped when I was an undergraduate.”