Washburn provides assistance to first-gen students

Washburn University has a blend of students from different backgrounds who will have prosperous futures. One of those many backgrounds is being a first-generation student.

The university defines a person as a first-generation student if “neither of the student’s parents/guardians completed a bachelor’s degree regardless of siblings and other relatives.”

This definition helped to identify the first-generation students on campus. In 2019, 46.7% of the campus met the definition of a first-generation student.

To ensure that these students are successful at Washburn, a first-generation specialist is available for help.

“Basically, what my job is is I get to help students figure out Washburn, what they want to do and what first-generation means to them,” said Jenny Lieurance, first-generation specialist and student success lecturer.

Not only has Lieurance come full circle by starting the first-generation organization, We Are F1rst, on campus and returning to Washburn, but she is a first-generation student herself.

As someone who has been through the process of college herself, Lieurance knows how troublesome coming to college can be as a first-generation student.

“You are trying to figure out these new systems, trying to fit in, trying to understand everything and sometimes, just like anyone, whether you are first-generation or not, you need assistance,” Lieurance said.

Reaching out and getting involved is a big part of the college experience. One of the best ways that first-generation students can get immersed at Washburn is through We Are F1rst.

“It is a fun organization to destress and talk about the struggles of being a first-generation student or just the struggles of being a college student,” said Perla Soto, junior criminal justice and mass media major.

As a first-generation student, Soto acknowledges her struggles with coming to college and explaining the stress that comes with it to her parents.

“Though my parents try their hardest to help me, it’s hard to be under a lot of stress and try to explain to them why,” Soto said.

We Are F1rst helped Soto find an interest in leadership positions as well as other organizations on campus to get involved in.

Although We Are F1rst pivots toward first-generation students, any student can be a member.

“You are not alone, there is always someone out there that can relate or is open to hearing you out,” Soto said.

Though a small but mighty group, first-generation students are a big part of Washburn. Their success, like any other student’s, is crucial.

As a first-generation specialist and in general, Lieurance is always ready to help students.

“Come find me in Mabee Library 219A,” Lieurance said. “Get involved, I want to be a resource.”

Both Soto and Lieurance agree that involvement is crucial to being a college student and encourage students to reach out.

Edited by: Glorianna Noland, Alyssa Storm