The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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What Does it Mean to be a First-Generation Student?

The SSC celebrated first-generation students throughout the week of Nov. 6
Mary-Grace McNutt
First-generation students and faculty gather on the steps of the President’s House during a special Pizza on the Patio event last week.

“First Generation Students,” what does that mean anyway? Very recently, those words have been thrown around more often than not, as Wednesday, Nov. 8 is First Generation College Celebration (FGCC) day. To celebrate that, the USAO Student Success Center (SSC) put on three events throughout the week of Nov. 6, to try to encourage camaraderie between first generation students.

I, a first-generation student, went to two of the three events. The first event was “How to Become a Millionaire – even on a Teacher’s Salary,” taught by Cynthia Fuston, an instructor of business. The second event was an exclusive Pizza on the Patio with President Hale, which provided a picture with the president and free t-shirts. The third event was “Donut Give Up!,” where free donuts were provided starting at 8:30 a.m., until they run out.

The first event, “How to become a Millionaire – even on a Teacher’s Salary,” was informative to say the least. It was advertised as a “Lunch and Learn,” where students could bring up their lunches from the cafeteria or Dusty’s to the Reagents Room and enjoy an informational experience. The talk started with the value of education, where Fuston talked about the importance of education in your life, and how big of changes it can make.

Then the topic of budgeting was come to, with Fuston recommending a $500- or $1000 emergency fund for college students and raising it as you get older and as more people join your household. Additionally, it was interestingly shown that if $500 is saved a month from the age of 25 to 55, a million dollars can be racked up with the power of interest.

Ray Thomas-Lapham

The most important thing I got from the talk, however, was the way to ratio out your budget, with 50% going to needs, 30% to wants, and 20% to saving and giving. This helped me create my own budget and is something I will be keeping in mind for a long time. Overall, this event was a good way to show first-generation students that they can do it, and they aren’t categorized by who their family is or what their circumstances may be now.

The second event, “Pizza on the Patio with President Hale,” was a fun way to mingle the students together that identify as first-generation. Smores, free t-shirts, and pizza were all provided for as a celebration of first-generation students. Overall, I think that this event was interesting, but with the emphasis that was put onto the importance of first-generation students, and over 50% of our student population being first-generation, more could have been done. However, I ultimately believe that these events will have the desired effect: reducing the drop-out rate of first-generation students and increasing camaraderie between them.

So, what does it mean to me to be first generation anyway? After all of this discussion about the events and the school’s outreach to us, what does it mean? Personally, I have a different experience than the stereotypical first-generation student. My parents are well off, but when it came to college help, they had no idea. I was thrown into college with the information that I was supposed to succeed, but not how to. The outreach of the SSC and the many helpful faculty on campus has helped me become a successful college student, and I’ll be forever grateful for them for that.

As Fuston stated during the first event, education can change your life, and provide so much development for a person. I hope that I can take what I’ve been given and pass it on in my future. While I do believe more could have been done, I do think the SSC has achieved their goal in bringing students closer together!


Bea Bourland is a second-year biology and environmental science major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributors
Bea Bourland
Bea Bourland, Contributing Writer
Bea is a third-year environmental science and biology major. Hailing from Mustang, she enjoys a diverse list of things including writing, hiking, and playing games. Along with The Trend, Bea is a part of Students for a Progressive Society and the Garden Club. When not working on class work, you can catch her outside in nature somewhere or napping anywhere she can.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Writer: Aug. 2022 - present
Mary-Grace McNutt
Mary-Grace McNutt, Senior Writer
Mary-Grace is a third-year communication and speech language pathology major from Moore. Mary-Grace is a part of the Drover Dancers and works for the Student Media Team, where she produces videos and takes photos around campus. She loves photography and wants to be a sports photographer after college.   Experience with The Trend: Senior Writer: May 2022 - present Contributing Writer: Aug. 2021 - April 2022