SEID connects FirstGen students to career resources

First-generation week celebrates student accomplishments.

National FirstGen week began on Nov. 8 and continues until Nov. 12. In past years, Student Enrichment and Intercultural Development dedicated one day a year for FirstGen students, according to assistant director of SEID Lester Larios. In 2020, SEID hosted a full week of events online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to junior sociology major Morena Aviles, FirstGen week is important due to the challenges of networking as a FirstGen student.

“I struggled because my parents did not go to college,” Aviles said. “Some challenges being FirstGen in general would be networking. We are not told how to network—I figured it out with my own discernment. There is a lot of support but without knowledge.” 

Junior accounting major Brandon Ortiz explained that the events allow him to express his identity as a FirstGen student. 

“They are important to me because I get the chance to connect and reconnect with other FirstGen students as well as connect with alumni for future opportunities,” Ortiz said.

Senior business administration major Carlos Ventura said that the events showcase the importance of supporting FirstGen students. Ventura explained that the program connected him with a community of FirstGen students and offered resources for his career path.

“As a FirstGen student I am not being exposed to enough resources that will be beneficial in the future,” Ventura said. 

ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION

Larios oversees the FirstGen college program at Biola. The program, which includes scholarship programs, mentoring, advising and college success workshops geared toward empowering and equipping FirstGen students.

Larios explained that FirstGen week falls yearly around Nov. 8, the day that the Higher Education Act was signed in 1965. But FirstGen week is about more than this historical date, Larios explained. It is an opportunity to celebrate student accomplishments and their supporters.

“They host this celebration every year on Nov. 8 to remember that act and also to celebrate our first-generation college students, their families, their communities and everyone who’s helped them get to college, and, you know, towards a thriving future so far,” Larios said.

According to Larios, 23% of students at Biola are first-generation college students, a population he expects will grow, as SEID continues its workshops and outreach programs aiming to equip FirstGen students.

“So there are many firsts in being FirstGen and to me this week symbolizes the celebration of God’s faithfulness and the opportunities that he has for us moving forward,” Larios said.

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