Office of Institutional Diversity reaches out to first generation students

Students discuss what it is like to be 1st generation college students as part of a panel at the Soup and Substance event Thursday in the UC Terrace Room.

Students and faculty came together Thursday afternoon for the Soup and Substance: First Generation to Graduation luncheon.

The event held in the Bovee University Center Terrace was the final Soup and Substance luncheon before the end of the semester.

Pathways to Academic Student Success, a program under the Office of Institutional Diversity, gave a presentation about their program and the ways in which they are reaching out to first generation, low income students. The program targets first generation Central Michigan University students with the goal of helping them achieve increased grade point averages, which will in turn increase graduation rates.

The Pathways program offers first generation students advising and mentoring tools, as well as workshops and seminars designed to aid in the transition to life as a university student.

The Soup and Substance presentation was led by program director Mary Henley.

She said many first generation students have trouble learning how to be successful students in a university setting, and they can be unaware of the various recourses at their disposal.

“One thing about first year students is they don’t know what they don’t know,” said Henley.

Henley was joined by a panel of first generation students that shared their experiences with those in attendance.

“No one in my family has attended college successfully,” said Allen Seales, member of the student panel.

The Flint senior expressed his desire to serve as an inspiration to the next generation of his family.

The group also discussed ways in which faculty members can help first generation students. Henley emphasized the importance of communication and identifying first generation students that might be struggling.

“The faculty that I have interacted with have been a great help,” said Seales.

Creating nurturing relationships between faculty and first generation students is a top priority of the Pathways program. When combined with academic advising services and four year degree planning, Pathways is working hard to make CMU a place where first generation students can come and succeed.

“I now know it is very important to build relationships with faculty, because they do help you” said panel member Holli Black, a recent graduate of CMU.