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Proud to be First

First Generation graphicAt the business school, first-generation students are key to sparking innovation and reaching new heights. As defined by Purdue, first-gen students are undergraduate students whose parents or guardians have not completed a four-year degree.  

This year, Purdue is prioritizing the voices of first-gen students with events across campus as part of First-Gen Celebration Week, which runs November 7-11. The week kicks off with a "Proud to be First!" reception on Monday, November 7, from 4:30-6 p.m. in the North Ballroom of the Purdue Memorial Union.

“One of the most rewarding parts of my job as a faculty member is mentoring first-generation college students,” says Thomas Godwin, assistant professor of accounting. “Supporting them and helping them break through the additional barriers they face as the first in their family to obtain a higher education degree is a win-win-win for the students, the University, and society as a whole.”

Sam La Mar, an undergraduate advisor at the business school, was a first-generation student herself. Now, she uses that experience to help her students. “As an advisor, I like to ‘de-myth’ college with my first-gen students,” she says. “What are the resources, the ‘college hacks’ and the ‘must-do’ steps to reach your end goal? Helping my students take the steps to reach their goals is one of the best parts of my job. Thank you to the first-gen Boilermakers who make our campus an amazing place to be.”

Another former first-gen student using his experience to guide a new generation is Matthew Lanham, a clinical assistant professor of management. Speaking about his own undergraduate experience, he says, “Those few friends and faculty I had that accepted and supported me were key.”

Now he wants to pay it forward. “We have faculty here in the business school that are more like you than you might think,” Lanham says to first-gen students. “Be proactive and reach out to them. Let us be part of your small support network.”

Christina Li, a current first-gen student, is graduating in 2023 with a degree in marketing. She reflects on her Purdue experience with pride. “In spite of the various challenges I’ve faced, I want people to know that first-gen students are the result of hard work, perseverance, and emotional strength,” she says. “And to current first-gen students, I want you to remember that you are worthy of accomplishing your biggest dreams.”

More infomation about First-Gen Celebration Week can be found here.