First-generation students, who are experiencing the unknown culture of college, may be referred to as transition communities. Effective transition communities enable students to share basic information that they need to prosper, to solve problems together, and to learn how to navigate college’s unfamiliar culture.
At Missouri State University a new student organization, MSU: I’m First, serves as an already-formed transition community for our first-generation students. MSU: I’m First was created to provide the resources and support that first-generation students at Missouri State – nearly seven thousand of them! – need to succeed through graduation.
Two sophomore communication students, Marli Coonrod and Shelby Morrison (the current I’m First President), co-founded MSU: I’m First last year, shortly after they served together as student members on a panel discussion following the film, First Generation by Adam Fenderson. Inspired by this experience, they took the chance to exercise leadership and to act upon their desire to help other first-generation students face the unknown collegiate culture together.
Since I’m First formed in 2015, the organization has hosted workshops on FAFSA preparation, financial literacy, and scholarship application at Missouri State. I’m First sponsored a panel discussion to help students talk about their college experience (and what it means to them) with family and friends. And the organization took the opportunity to just enjoy being with each other at a Missouri State baseball game last spring. Twenty staff and faculty members serve as mentors for I’m First’s 65 members, providing an invaluable resource to help first-gen students succeed at Missouri State.
This fall, I’m First will again host Scholarship Application workshops on November 10th and 15th, a finals study hall for members on December 11th, and a fun night at Missouri State’s Game Center on November 3rd. To learn more about MSU: I’m First or to join, visit MSU’s Campus Link at: https://missouristate.collegiatelink.net/organization/Imfirst.