Being the First Doesn’t Mean Being Alone; Programs In Place to Help First-Generation Students Succeed

by GABBIE KEERAN, CSU Public Relations Intern


first-generation college studenta student whose parents or guardians did not earn a college degree.

If you are among the first in your family to pursue a degree, college may be a completely new family experience. As a student, you may feel lost and unsure about everything from financial aid to getting involved.

Minnesota State University, Mankato offers multiple resources for first generation and transfer students to help you succeed.


TRIO Student Support Services provides academic, cultural, career-oriented, and social activities to help students succeed.

Margaret Hesser, director of TRIO, said first generation and transfer students may face challenges that other students may not face. Common challenges include a sense of belonging in the campus community, students with different financial backgrounds, and students struggling with pressure to do well.

TRIO Student Support Services is an office where students can go to answer the questions they may have or to get guided in a specific direction.

The main message that I try to give students is we as TRIO Student Support Services tries to be one office that students can come to for support so we can direct them to the right resource,” Hesser said.

Currently about 175 students are served each year by TRIO. Services are free to enrolled undergraduate students who meet the specific criteria. To find out eligibility, visit here.

TRIO Student Support Services is located in Wiecking Center 355, or visit the website here.


Maverick Firsts is another resource for students to go to in order to help students find their place. Maverick Firsts focuses on building a community for first generation and transfer students.

Maverick Firsts offers students a chance to speak with a Maverick First Advocate. Often a volunteering faculty or staff member, an assigned advocate offers advice and support to students in need.

The Maverick Firsts initiative also features the “Finding Your Place” podcast created by six student producers. Four Minnesota State Mankato students are joined by two students from Century College in St. Paul, Minn.

The podcast features 12 core episodes helping first-generation students through such topics as overcoming common fears, getting involved in the campus community, and understanding financial aid.

Other podcasts offer perspectives for veterans, single mothers and others.

The podcast is the result of grant funding awarded to Dave Engen of Minnesota State University, Mankato and Robert Jersak of Century College.


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