Olivia McLucas / The Daily Gamecock

USC celebrates first-generation college students

If neither of your parents or legal guardians attended a four-year college or obtained a bachelor's degree, you are considered a first-generation college student. 

Nov. 8 is national first-generation celebration day. Last year, USC celebrated for a single day, but because of positive feedback from students and faculty, USC’s first-generation celebration has expanded to an entire week.

“Being first generation impacts every dimension of life as a college student,” Shanna Robinson, co-chair of the First Generation College Student Working Group Committee, said in an email interview.

This is why USC finds it important to celebrate the roughly 15% of its students who are first-generation, Robinson said.

“Providing a week-long event will not only inspire and empower first-generation students, but it will elevate the status of first-generation students at UofSC and recognize their achievements in being the first in their family to attend college,” Robinson said.

The week of Nov. 4 is full of first-generation focused question and answer panels, workshops and celebrations on campus, which are open to all members of USC’s campus and community. 

The events offered throughout the week are meant to educate and equip first-generation students with the knowledge of what it means to be first-generation and how to move past the hardships attached to the label.

“Some of the most successful people have faced tremendous adversity,” Ashley Byrd-White, USC’s assistant director for career education, said.

Byrd-White led a Career Center strengths-based workshop on Tuesday. She spoke on how to prevail over the weaknesses that come with being first-generation and how to turn strengths into skills in order to reach goals.

In this conversational workshop, Byrd-White focused on allowing the first-generation students in the room to converse with each other about their strengths and encouraged students in attendance to reflect on the skills they possess. 

“I came here because I wanted to find out what my strengths and weaknesses are as a first-gen student, and this workshop gave me insight,” first-year first-generation student Amarie Hall said.

Carly Zerr, a leadership coach at USC, led another workshop focusing on service and leadership in the Career Center on Wednesday. The workshop informed first-generation students on the different ways they could get involved in leadership positions on campus. 

“As first-gen, you are more likely to have leadership characteristics such as courage," said Ashley Bailey-Taylor, co-chair of the First Generation College Student Working Group Committee.

During the workshop, first-generation students went around the room and shared their best leadership characteristics while empowering other students. 

The last event held at USC for first-generation week will be a celebration on Davis Field from 11:30 a.m to 2 p.m on Friday. 

“I’m looking forward to this event in hopes of connecting to more first-gen students,” fourth-year first-generation geography student Jawaun Mcclam said.

Everyone is welcome to attend the celebration event, and photos can be posted on all social media with #UofSCFirstGen.


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