First-Generation Students Find their Home at Olivet

The staff at the Center for Student Success organized a pizza night for first generation students on October 12 in the Warming House.

All of the counselors at the event were first generation college students. They offered a lot of advice to the students at the event.

“Be willing to ask questions,” Brianna Koch, a staff therapist at Olivet, said. “Take advantage of the resources that are on campus.” She believes asking questions is important for first-generation college students to do.

Photo by Kailyn Mickulas

“Some [first-gen students] have a lot of pressure on their shoulders,” Jorge Bonilla, the retention coordinator at Olivet, said. “We want to encourage them to cope with these pressures in a good way.”

“They are the first ones to navigate college,” Bonilla said. Because of this, students find themselves learning how to do everything on their own, such as writing a college essay or filling out a FAFSA application. Their parents cannot help with many of the college-related things they have to do.

Senior and first-generation student, Liz Mancilla, agrees with Bonilla.

“At first, it was hard,” Mancilla said about her experience. “I would ask a lot of questions.”

However, she has certainly benefitted from going to events like the First-Generation Pizza Night.

“You realize you are not alone,” Mancilla said. Many students have found comfort in knowing that they are not the only one going through their experience as a first- generation college student.

“I think Olivet does a really good job providing many resources for the students,” Koch said. “The resources are endless.”

“When somebody is a first-gen and they are going to college, that is a big deal.” Bonilla said. Bonilla believe that first-generation students should feel empowered to have the opportunity to attend college.

Events like these provide opportunities for students to connect with counselors and create a community of first-generation students where they can share their stories and have something in common.

The next event designed for first-gen students is a faculty hangout, where students will have the opportunity to connect with first-gen faculty members. This event will be held on November 15 at 7:00 PM in the Warming House.

Featured Picture by Carlie Parpart

1 Comment

  1. I wish I could have gone to this event but I had class. I must admit, when I started at Olivet in the fall of 2016 after graduating High School in 1986, I was quite intimidated. However, everyone from Dr. Jay Martinson, every Professor in the Comm Department and Adam Banter, the experience has been amazing. I am a first gen student at the age of 47 at time of admission. I must admit, working full time, raising a family and attending ONU full time is a tom of work but is also a ton of fun. One of my drives is to make a better life for my family and to honor the wish of my parents who have both passed away that they wanted to see their children graduate from college.

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