USU celebrates first generation

Utah State University Blanding held its inaugural First-Generation Celebration, spanning four days from November 6-9.
The celebration paid tribute to the remarkable achievements of first-generation students, faculty, staff, and community members, all of whom have played a pivotal role in shaping the campus’s inclusive and supportive learning environment.
“First generation students face many barriers before entering college,” said Priscilla Arungwa, director of students at USU Blanding.
“However, they are resilient, and determined, and often work hard to pull others up in the process. This special group of people deserve recognition for the work they do in their communities and the value they add to the university.”
Beginning on Monday, the campus held a picture gallery with large images of famous first-generation and USU first-gen students, faculty and staff, including informative biographies. These displays were for all students to be able to view and learn about first-gen accomplishments.
On Tuesday the campus had first-generation faculty, staff and students visit classrooms to share their experiences of being the first in their families to go to college.
On Wednesday, the campus hosted a first-gen panel, where a panel of speakers shared their experiences, moderated by Kelsey Bushman, TRIO Learning Specialist.
The week of celebration closed with a banquet, with approximately 60 first-generation students, faculty, and staff.
Arungwa, who is herself a first-generation student, offered opening remarks and shared her inspiring story, emphasizing the resilience of individuals in the Blanding community.
Teresa Frazier, Upward Bound program director, and Tyrone “Ty” Couey, founder and president of the National Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Alumni Association Foundation, also spoke.
“Events that promote first-generation college students are crucial,” said Kristian Olsen, senior associate vice president for USU Blanding. “Nearly 60 percent of our students are first-generation individuals who have taken the leap into education to enhance their lives and those of future generations.”
USUSA Blanding representative Faith Tolgena was event emcee and facilitated the event. Riana James, USUSA vice president, also welcomed guests. Kimberly Hiatt, program director for Student Support Services delivered closing remarks.
“All first-generation students have an opportunity to create new stories,” Hiatt said. “These unique and important stories include diverse plots and twists as well as characters from family and community who inspire them to blaze trails and overcome various obstacles toward a legacy of new horizons for the next generation of learners. I love celebrating them.”
“We promote first-gen stories because we believe this is a way for others who are currently facing barriers to see they can succeed as college students and will have the support they need,” Arungwa added.
USU Blanding offers a range of resources to support first-generation college students in their transition to university life. Some of these resources include the TRIO programs, which are federally funded and provide academic support services, as well as USU Blanding’s Tutoring & Writing Center. The campus also organizes numerous on-campus activities and events, aiming to foster a sense of community and engagement among students.

San Juan Record

49 South Main St
PO Box 879
Monticello, UT 84535

Phone: 435.587.2277
Fax: 435.587.3377
Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday