National First-Gen Week is a celebration and acknowledgement of students at colleges and universities across the country who are first in their family to attend college. With the help of the First-Generation Plus Success Center on the University Park Campus, USC is holding a weeklong celebration to recognize all that first-gen Trojans have accomplished during their time at the university.
Joel Jimenez, a senior industrial engineering student and First-Gen Student Orientation leader, appreciated the event. He said that the First-Gen Center and events like this make it easier to talk about”more difficult topics like financial struggles and imposter syndrome. “[It was] not as easy to find community” before the center opened, he said, but now there is a “portion of USC officially dedicated to first generation students.”
Monday’s event — a kickoff gathering for students, staff and faculty to discuss their experiences and offer words of wisdom — took place in front of Tommy Trojan. The Trojan Marching Band joined the festivities and performed for a growing crowd. Tote bags and stickers were available at the event, as well as T-shirts at the First-Gen Center, inside the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
First-generation students at USC find support
Jimenez said the center provides a place to study and work with students like himself. There’s also a refrigerator, microwave and water bottle refill station, helpful for those students who commute and need a space to eat and store meals while attending class.
The center also has staff members who students can talk to about academic, financial or personal concerns and get helpful information and resources, said Alejandra Delacruz Hong, manager of Trojan Success Initiatives for USC’s Student Equity and Inclusion Programs. There is also an embedded counselor available, who specializes in the concerns of first-generation, transfer, immigrant and former foster youth students.
The center offers programming for students, like an immigration clinic on Wednesday afternoons and Transfer Student Soul Search, a series of self-discovery modules that help students find community and learn what is available to them as a Trojan. “We’re also open to suggestions from students,” Hong said. “What else do you need? What do you want to see?”
Center sees steady flow of first-generation students at USC
The First-Gen Plus Success Center always has a steady flow of students, but new students are discovering the place every day, Hong said. They’re excited to have found a community that supports their needs.
Jimenez, who also works at the front desk in the center, said that his role there is “an opportunity to give guidance and offer advice that I wish I’d known.”
“I’m able to help students who are experiencing similar struggles I faced as an underclassman,” he said. “I let them know that they’re not alone. There are other students like you all over campus.”
Students interested in learning more should email the center. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional National First-Generation Week events at USC:
TUESDAY, NOV. 9:
- CalFresh workshop on how to navigate the state’s food assistance program as a college student. Virtual event from 11 a.m.-noon.
- Thriving after COVID-19 with the First-Generation Plus Support Center’s embedded counselor, Miriam Barillas. Virtual event at 4 p.m.
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 10:
- Grab and Go Brunch for the first 60 students who stop by the First-Gen Center (TCC224).
THURSDAY, NOV. 11:
- Viewing party of USC’s Veteran’s Day celebration from 12-1:30 pm. Lunch is provided for those who RSVP. Noon-1:30 p.m. at the First-Gen Center (TCC 224)