On April 6th, Texas Tech’s First Generation Transition and Mentoring Programs hosted their seventh annual First-Gen Student Summit, aimed towards helping first-generation college students find resources and skills to help them succeed.

Laura Flores, the program coordinator for the First Generation Transition and Mentoring Programs, said this was the first in-person summit they’ve been able to host in four years.

“The first time this ever occurred was back in 2015,” Flores said. “This is the first time in four years that we’ve had it in person.”

The First Generation Transition and Mentoring Programs also work to help students get involved in mentorship programs, be awarded scholarships and set students up with a support system.

Flores said her goal with hosting the summit was to empower and celebrate first-generation students as they navigate college life.

“My entire team’s goal is to have as many students as possible come and attend the event, not for the sake of attending, but to be empowered, to feel celebrated as a first generation student” Flores said. “Sometimes when we think of a first generation student, we think of the barriers that child has to face, us maybe not having the tools necessary to succeed in college, and that is completely untrue.”

Flores also said that she encourages first generation students to reach out to the First Generation Transition and Mentoring Programsand get connected with fellow students.

“I encourage you to learn as much about us as possible,” Flores said. “We just encourage them to come learn about our office, come to our events. We’re here to support you, you belong here, you’re a part of our community.”

Sharae Flores, a public relations and strategic communication management major from Carlsbad, New Mexico, is set to graduate this May, but said her journey as a first-generation student hasn’t always been easy.

“It’s definitely a different experience for me,” Flores said. “So for me, it’s a lot of pressure, it’s a lot of weight on my shoulders. I have my family that’s super supportive of me, but at the same time, they don’t understand exactly what I go through. But at the end of the day, being first-gen means just that I could persevere through the hardest things.”

Flores currently serves as the program’s assistant for social media and creative design, and said though entering college as a first-generation student can be scary, there are always people there to help.

“I know it looks really hard coming into a world you don’t know much about, your family doesn’t know much about, but there are resources here for you.” Flores said. “There are people that care for you. It’s scary to have to go out and find that, but just know that it does exist, and hopefully through events like this we can break through that barrier and find the people that really need us.”

Nana Mprah, a third-year chemical engineering student from Mansfield, is the second member of her family to attend college, behind her older brother.

Mprah is a McNair Scholar, and said the program gave her the opportunity to volunteer at the summit. 

The McNair Scholars Program prepares undergraduate students for higher education through research and scholarship opportunities.

Mprah said that her college journey hasn’t been easy, especially in her rigorous major, but that Tech has a lot of resources to help students.

“College? It’s been a lot,” Mprah said. “I know I have a hard major, which most people were like ‘how are you staying in, why have you not dropped out?’. But being able to go to Tech, having a library open (almost) 24/7, we have tutoring sessions, you also get so many free resources, teachers being able to help you out. So I feel like that’s helped my college experience where I feel like it could’ve been way harder.”

According to the First Generation Transition and Mentoring Programs website, almost 25 percent  of Red Raiders identify as a first-generation student.

Mprah also wants fellow first-gen students to know that it gets easier and that sacrifices will be worth it in the end.

“It gets easier, it’s gonna be worth it in the end,” Mprah said. “Just take that step because you never know what’s gonna happen. As long as you have people helping you, people surrounding you, it gets better. You’ll be able to get through it and at the end of the day, it’s going to be worth it. Taking that first step could end up making you be the one that saves the future.”

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