CLINTON, S.C. (courtesy presby.edu) — When Presbyterian College’s first generation students feel like they are behind in any way, a new student-led organization inspires them to be in F1RST.
F1RST, a registered student organization established in 2020 and dedicated to mentoring first-gen students, gives students whose parents or guardians have not earned a four-year college degree the opportunity to support one another.
The group was inspired by the college’s commitment to first-gen students in the 2017 strategic plan — “The Promise of PC” — and the follow-up decision to create a new position dedicated to helping them navigate college life. Students banded together to create a network of social and academic support and empowered them to create a welcoming environment for future first-gen students at PC.
The creation of F1RST made a lasting impact on many of the participants, including 2021 alumna and former F1RST president, Heather Grice.
“When I first got to PC, first-gens weren’t recognized,” she said. “No one was tracking us; but when the college made its commitment to first-gens in 2020, we created this club, giving us an identity. This organization brought together people who were like me, who could support each other because we are all pretty much in the same boat.”
Creating a support system has been one of the key goals of F1RST. Rising senior and current F1RST president Makayla Grady, credits F1RST for helping her get more involved.
“This club made it easier for me to reach out more,” Grady said. “First-gens often have difficulty navigating everything because we don’t have someone who has done this before; but with the help of (associate director of student success and Presby First+ coordinator) Stephanie Keene and other students involved in the club, it definitely helped. We want to bring more awareness to first-gens and support one another. College can be confusing on your own, but when you have others who you know are like you helping you through, it makes a huge difference.”
Rising sophomore and current F1RST vice president Bri Santiago-Swindell has high hopes for the group, as well.
“F1RST was created so we could have our own community where first-gen students can come together, share our experiences, and encourage each other,” she said. “I want to see this club grow. Hopefully we can have more events, connect with more first-gen students, and have more people get involved.”
If you would like more information about F1RST or how to get involved, please contact Presby First Coordinator and F1RST advisor, Stephanie Keene at firstname.lastname@example.org.