Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Advertise in our classifieds section
Your classified listing could be here!
October 4, 2022

UT offers new programs, resources to first-gen students

Barbra Daly

For incoming first-generation students, UT’s campus may seem daunting, but offices, organizations and current first-generation students across campus are collaborating with a hope to make the college transition a little easier for them. 

According to UT’s first-generation website, being a first-generation college student usually means neither parent of the student earned a college degree, but students whose parents earned degrees in foreign countries often identify as first-generation as well. First-generation undergraduate students make up about 20% of UT’s population, according to UT’s first-generation website. 

The First-Generation Commitment Working Group launched two new resources for first-generation students over the summer: freshman and transfer orientation welcome sessions and the First-Generation Living Learning Community in Jester West. The Living Learning Community has 23 members this year and will provide biweekly meetings, one-on-one mentors, speakers, events and a community within Jester to call home, said Kayleigh Damphousse, transition coordinator for New Student Services. 

“We’re going to have … VIP speakers on some special topics that a lot of our first-generation college students identify as wanting or wish they knew,” Damphousse said. “(Speakers will focus on) a lot of information about resilience and grit and imposter syndrome that a lot of first-generation college students identify with feeling.”

The First-Generation Kickoff Weekend includes a tailgate for the Texas vs. LSU football game on Sept. 7. On Sept. 8, students can attend workshops and a meeting with UT President Gregory Fenves and First Lady of UT Carmel Fenves, who is a first-generation alumna.  

UT’s efforts to help first-generation students was recognized in May when UT was named a First Forward Institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success in its inaugural cohort of 80 such institutions. The center is an initiative by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators to advocate for first-generation students. 

“The designation really helps us to get national recognition on first-gen initiatives, and we will be able to be a part of the NASPA cohort for two years with further involvement after those two years,” said Mike Gutierrez, senior program coordinator for Student Success Initiatives and a first-generation UT alumnus. 

“During the two years, we will be able to get professional development to help staff members across campus  understand the needs of first-gen students.”

Other resources available for first-generation students include the Longhorn Link Program, First-Generation Longhorn Graduation and the First Abroad Planning Scholarship for studying abroad. 

 Government junior Esther Arriaga, who identifies as a first-generation student, said she found her community by joining the Longhorn League of United Latin-American Citizens and sorority Kappa Delta Chi. She said attending UT was a “culture shock” because she attended predominantly Latinx schools growing up. 

“One of the things I really noticed was the income gap coming to UT,” Arriaga said. “A lot of that really influenced me to want to buy items and have different brand names that I usually wouldn’t afford. I wish someone would’ve told me that I didn’T need that type of stuff to fit in because you don’t.”

More to Discover
Activate Search
UT offers new programs, resources to first-gen students