2015 Sessions

Summit Schedule:

8:30-9:30am Registration, breakfast and mingling Pendleton Atrium
9:45-10:20am Opening comments Jewett Auditorium
10:25-11:00am Session 1 – Skills share sessions Pendleton Classrooms
11:05-11:40am Session 2 – Skills share sessions Pendleton Classrooms
11:45am-12:20pm Session 3 – Skills share sessions Pendleton Classrooms
12:30-1:30pm Lunchtime Caucus Conversations Pendleton Atrium & Assigned Classrooms
1:45-2:45pm Campus Cohorts Pendleton Classrooms
3:00-3:45pm Share-back Town Hall Jewett Auditorium
3:45-4:30pm Summit Keynote and Closing Jewett Auditorium

 

i'm first logoDo you want to record a video to be included in I’m First’s stories blog? Stop by Pendleton 325 to share your story and get a free I’m First t-shirt!

 

 

Session 1 Workshops:

The Pros and Pros of Being First Generation

Presenters:
Ramone Brown ’18, Andy Foster ’18, Palak Khanna ’18, Janet Nieto ’18 & Anna Rodriguez ’18, Tufts University

Session Description:

The Pros and Pros of being First Generation will provide insight into the first generation experience through the voices of five freshmen at Tufts University. The session will focus on the positives and negatives (mostly positives) of the first generation experience from the college application process to the start of college. While we all attend Tufts, our backgrounds, high-school experiences, and interests are vastly different. Nevertheless, we are bound together by the first-generation experience. The goal of our proposal is to inspire students regardless of whether or not they identify as first generation, to be appreciative of their experiences.This conference is also a way of promoting active self-reflection. We wish to encourage students to take advantage of the resources offered to them. Although we dealt with setbacks, we learned from our defeats. We developed resilience and confidence; we want to share these sentiments with fellow college students and other college campus members. There are misconceptions that being first-gen is a label for students who are limited, but we want to disprove this notion. Today, we are more knowledgeable than we were before we began our college careers. By reaching out and taking advantage of opportunities in our community, we have garnered a support network that helped us succeed. The ethnic diversity of our panel is another benefit which will allow us to connect with a variety of individuals. We represent minority groups on our college campus, and hope that our discussion enables other students of minority groups to find their place in their respective college and home communities. Our hope is that our message reaches administrators and faculty as well, so that they may share it. We would like them to be aware of what they can do to enrich the educational experiences of students like us at their respective institutions.

Areas: Admissions, Finding Community, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience

Format(s):  Panel, Presentation, Skills Share, Discussion, Participant Sharing

Audience: Students, Grad Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 239

Finding Strength in our Diversity

Presenters:
Lindsey Cobb ’17, Noelia Fernandez ’16 & Susana Martinez ’17, Salem State University

Session Description:

This session looks at first generation students and our backgrounds in a new light. Many first generation students come from culturally and economic diverse environments. When we enter college, many of us feel out of place and are unable to connect.

In this session, everyone will have an opportunity to tell our stories and explain how our diversity has encouraged us to succeed and thrive in college. The assets we will highlight are some of those introduced by Tara Yosso in her work on Community Cultural Wealth theory and they include: aspirations, language, family support, social/group support, & resistance to challenges and inequality. We will address how each of these assets are present in our lives and how they have helped us succeed. We will then open it up for discussion in the  room to identify these assets in their own backgrounds and share those realizations with the group (through small group and large group sharing).

Areas: Intersectionality, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience, Diversity

Format: Panel, Presentation, Discussion, Participant Sharing, Small Groups

Audience:  Students, Grad Students, Faculty

Room: Pendleton 339

Utilizing strengthsquest to find the voice of the First Generation College Students

Presenter:
Anne-Marie Kenney, Dean of Student Affairs, Newbury College

Session Description:

Newbury is currently piloting a program aimed at first generation college students and how identfying strengths can impact their overall first year experience.

Areas: Academic Advising, Finding Community, Intersectionality

Format: Panel, Presentation, Discussion, Handouts

Audience: Students, Grad Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 349

Putting your money where your mouth is: starting an orientation group for first gens

Presenter: Marge Litchford, Assistant Dean of Students, Smith College

Session Description:

Starting an orientation group for first gens and all that comes with it.

Format: Panel, Lecture, Small Groups

Audience: Students, Grad Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 116

Mental Health Resources for First Gen Students: What can we do better?

Presenters:
Alex Katz, Graduate Student and Staff ’16, University of Rhode Island
Susmita Paul ’16, Williams College

Session Description:

College is a stressful time for the average student: You find yourself in a new environment, learning new material, new rules, a new social code, and making new relationships. First gen students may find themselves trying to navigate this system without role models, unsure of many aspects of the college experience that many take for granted (financial aid, internships, getting involved, etc), and unsure of where to turn for help. These students may also be full time employees, have family responsibilities, or other responsibilities. Mental health remains a taboo for the families of many first gen, low income, high achieving students. The culture shock that accompanies moving away from home or dorming at a privileged white institution of higher learning has the tendency to exhaust students, but combined with the increased academic rigor of college and the need to acclimate to a new lifestyle can put significant strain on students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This session will help students brainstorm and share ways they pay attention to their mental health, constructive ways to handle stress, where to go/what to do if they or a friend is feeling suicidal, and resources to look out for and take advantage of. Moreover, we need more group therapy sessions. We need to be able to speak about what mental health illnesses look like and the different ways in which they are manifested. We need increased support in the form of psychological services that offer psychologists who hail from, or are able to understand, the struggles that first gen and low income students face. We need to advocate for increased funding for targeted support, beginning with freshman year orientation and being available through graduation.

Room: Pendleton 117

Session 2 Workshops:

Intersecting Identities: Immigration and First Generation College Experiences

Presenters:
Eduardo Avalos ’17, Williams College
Elizabeth Cho ’16, Wellesley College
Felix Contreras-Castro ’16, Amherst College
Melissa Martinez ’18, Amherst College

Session Description:

Students who are first, or 1.5, or second generation U.S. residents have to negotiate the challenges of making two transitions simultaneously: into country and into college. Panelists will speak of what specific challenges they faced and how they made (are making) these transitions.

Areas: Intersectionality

Format:   Panel

AudienceStudents, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 239

A First Generation Student Support Initiative that Works: Generation Merr1mack

Presenters:
Tia Roy – Grad Student, Amanda Brian – Grad Student,  Kayla Bramante – Grad Student, Merrimack College

Session Description:

We will be presenting on the programmatic structure of Generation Merr1mack and the evolution from the first year. Generation Merr1mack supports first generation college students holistically through a four pronged approach. We will engage with the audience to allow for discussion and planning around how to develop a G1 support initiative on their own campuses, and/or how to enhance their existing program(s). Attendees will be able to conceptualize a functioning model, and will also be able to brainstorm as a group ways in which the conversation can be presented to key players on their college campuses.

Areas: Activism on Campus, Effective First Generation Student Programming

Format: Presentation, Discussion, Handouts

Audience: Students, Grad Students, Faculty, Administrators, Large school, Small school, Public institution or community college, Private institution, Elite institution

Room: Pendleton 339

Navigating the intersectionality of being first generation and independent

Presenter:
Alex Katz, Graduate Student and Staff ’16, University of Rhode Island

Session Description:

My session would explore what it is like to be a member of both these groups. Often times students who are first generation may also qualify as independent and might not even know it. Even if they do not qualify, both groups of students need to learn to navigate the college system on their own, may face significant financial issues, lack role models and not know where to turn to find role models. They can serve as allies and resources for each other.

Areas:  Financial Aid, Intersectionality, Independent status

Format: Interactive Activities, Presentation, Discussion, Multimedia Presentations, Participant Sharing

Audience: Students, Grad Students

Room: Pendleton 349

UnPopular Economics: Student Debt

Presenters:
Gillian Mason, Jobs with Justice
Marcus Papetti ’15,  Emmanuel College
Maria Peniche ’15,  Pine Manor College

Session Description:

MA Campaign for a Debt-Free Future is the local arm of a national campaign to end student debt through financial literacy and direct action. For so many reasons, first-generation college students are disproportionately harmed by the growth of the business model for higher ed — they tend to enter the system with fewer resources and less understanding of the financial aid, and are therefore more vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of predatory lenders.

We will present a basic financial literacy training around the issue of student debt. The popular education curriculum (developed by our national staff in conjunction with the Highlander Center) deals with the practical advice students need before they take on debt as well as the destructive trends in the corporatization of higher education that have created the current debt crisis. The training includes a call to action and some ideas for next steps for activism.

Areas:  Activism on Campus, Financial Aid

Format:  Interactive Activities, Presentation, Discussion, Handouts, Participant Sharing, Small Groups , Practical Info/Tools

Audience:  Students, Grad Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 116

Cultural Organizing: Liberating Ourselves through Arts and Culture

Presenter:
Jax Gil, Recent Graduate, Brandeis University

Session Description:

As first generation students, many of us come from a culture that feels really different from the dominant culture of the institutions we now go to school in. If you identify with the culture of a marginalized race, ethnicity, place, or income level (or any combination of these) it can feel like there are no places where you can center and explore your experiences, on your own terms.

Together, mass media in the age of globalization and imperialist policies that police marginalized’s communities’ use of space work to sever young people from their cultural roots. Organic cultural forms including rituals, rhythms, and other community forms of active meaning-making are losing space to be and breathe, effectively diminishing spaces and vehicles in which marginalized’s communities can embody and explore their inherited cultural identities. In this session we will have the opportunity to have a share stories around how various aspects of our identities, including race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, etc. are silenced both in our schools and in our communities, as well as explore success stories on how communities are reclaiming their cultural roots to build powerful communities for social transformation and collective liberation.

Jacklyn Gil (Jax) is a queer latinx recent graduate of Brandeis University, where they majored in Peace and Justice studies, with a focus in Creativity, the Arts and Social Transformation. They find joy in growing the creative toolboxes of organizations working towards collective liberation, especially those working towards black and brown trans/queer liberation. Jax is an aspiring cultural organizer fascinated by media-making, Theatre of the Oppressed, Frierian education, percussion and movement. Born to immigrant parents, Jax feels called to support the self-actualization and placekeeping work of transnational and diasporic communities through local economy building, intergenerational storytelling, and celebration(!). Currently, they work with a Boston-based collective, to support human-centered economy building in communities of color through creative cultural strategy. They’re also up to an ethnomusicology and interview project exploring Afro-caribbean rhythms, Afro-latinidad, and the racial identity of mestizaje. Jax is based in Providence where they sell baked goods, dream about becoming a dj, worship Gloria Anzaldúa, and build with other QTPOC creatives.

Chrislene DeJean has been creating mischief since birth. She is a Boston-native with a Smith degree. She has worked on projects that use the arts to communicate reproductive health issues. 
Areas:  Activism on Campus, Finding Community, Intersectionality, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience

Format: Interactive Activities, Discussion, Handouts, Multimedia Presentations, Participant Sharing, Small Groups

Audience: Students, Grad Students, Faculty

Room: Pendleton 117

The End of Days: The effects of the student loan crisis on higher education

Presenter:
Richard DeCapua, Associate Dean of Students, Boston College

Session Description:

This session will focus on the macro and micro factors that influence why the cost of college is so high. It will give participants a basis of how institutions act as business and how this affects almost every aspect of a student’s undergraduate experience.

Areas: Admissions, Financial Aid, Intersectionality, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience

Format: Presentation, Multimedia Presentations, Participant Sharing

Audience: Students, Grad Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 116

Session 3 Workshops:

The Williams Firsts Pre-Orientation Program: A Peer Led Orientation Program

Presenters:
Rosanna Reyes, Associate Dean, Williams College
Olivier Joseph ’17 & Alejandra Velia Moran ’17, Williams College

Session Description:

The Williams First First Gen Pre-Orientation is an exciting program designed to give incoming first gen students and their families an early opportunity to become acclimated with Williams College. During the three-day pre-orientation program students connect with various faculty, staff, and upper class first gen students. What makes this program unique is that it is mainly peer led! Two former Orientation Leaders (OLs) will share their experiences developing and implementing the orientation program this past August. Attendees will be able to hear the details of the program and how to implement a similar program on their respective campuses. 

Areas: Finding Community, Intersectionality, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience, Pre-Orientation Programs

Format:  Skills Share, Discussion, Practical Info/Tools3

Audience:  Students, Grad Students, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 239

Kick-starting our First Generation Program: A first-hand look at a developing First Generation support system

Presenters:
Gianna Buonpastore ’17, Marissa Keleman ’18 and Moise St.Louis, Director of Center for Multicultural Affairs and Services, Saint Michael’s College

Session Description
:

Saint Michael’s College began a program for First Generation students in 2013 under the direction of two faculty members. In 2014, an advisory council of five First Generation students was created under the direction of the two faculty members to further build the program. We will discuss what it is like starting a program, as well as what we have found to be effective as well as improvements, suggestions, and cautions to be aware of when kick-starting one’s on First Generation Program own campus.

Areas:  Academic Advising, Activism on Campus, Finding Community, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience

Format(s):  Presentation, Handouts, Multimedia Presentations, Practical Info/Tools

Audience:  Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 339

Navigating Graduate School as a First-Gen

Presenters:
Craig Bidiman, Grad Student, UMass Amherst
Katy Hamm, Coordinator of Student Activities, Lesley University

Session Description:

Geared toward those entering or applying to a student affairs or higher education graduate program, this session will discuss finding the right school/program for you, the application process, and what assistantships are and how they can help you in terms of experience, tuition-coverage, benefits, and use of campus resources.

Katy and Craig will share their personal successes and difficulties in navigating both undergraduate and graduate school with a first-gen identity, and hopefully give you some tips and tricks that will be useful in your own experience.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Understand the process of finding and applying to graduate programs
  • Know of the role of a graduate assistant, and the benefits of being one
  • Feel comfort in moving forward in the process of applying and entering graduate school
  • Leave the room knowing that being a first-gen grad student is a realistic and attainable goal

Areas: Finding Community, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience, What’s Next, Grad School, Career info

Format: Interactive Activities, Presentation, Discussion, Multimedia Presentations, Participant Sharing

Audience: Students, Grad Students

Room: Pendleton 116

How Institutions Can Support Their First Generation Latin@ Community

Presenter:
Katelyn Montalvo ’15, Tufts University

Session Description:

First generation college students are increasing in enrollment in postsecondary institutions. While this demographic is increasing, support on the other side of the institution is not. I wanted to know why elite four-year institutions were not equipped to support current first generation college students. I compiled statistics from The National Center for Education Statistics showing the demographic changes of first generation college students from majority white to majority students of color. I also researched what information was published showing why first generation college students need institutional support in order to excel. Isolation, stereotype threat, cultural mismatch and financial constraints are some obstacles that first generation college students encounter compared to their non first generation college peers. I also researched programs that other schools have that support their first generation college community giving recommendations on how institutions like Tufts can work with their growing first generation college community.

Areas:  Activism on Campus, Admissions, Finding Community, Intersectionality, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience

Format:  Presentation, Discussion, Lecture, Multimedia Presentations

Audience:  Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 117

PHENOMs Organizing for Affordable & Accessible, Quality Public Higher Education in Massachusetts

Presenters:
Natalie Higgins, PHENOM
Marven Hyppolite ’15, UMass Dartmouth
Kimberly Selwitz, PHENOM

Session Description:

A  panel of PHENOM organizers (students and recent graduates) will discuss their own 1st Gen experiences as students and organizers working to advance public higher education in Massachusetts. PHENOM’s organizing work includes addressing barriers of cost, access, and retention.

PHENOM, the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts unites students, staff, faculty, alumni, administrators, and the larger community to advocate for better funded, more accessible, quality public higher education in Massachusetts.

Areas:  Activism on Campus, Intersectionality, Ups and Downs of the 1st Gen Experience

Format:  Panel, Discussion, Practical Info/Tools

Audience:  Students, Grad Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 349

UnPopular Economics: Student Debt

Presenters:
Gillian Mason, Jobs with Justice
Marcus Papetti ’15,  Emmanuel College
Maria Peniche ’15,  Pine Manor College

Session Description:

MA Campaign for a Debt-Free Future is the local arm of a national campaign to end student debt through financial literacy and direct action. For so many reasons, first-generation college students are disproportionately harmed by the growth of the business model for higher ed — they tend to enter the system with fewer resources and less understanding of the financial aid, and are therefore more vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of predatory lenders.

We will present a basic financial literacy training around the issue of student debt. The popular education curriculum (developed by our national staff in conjunction with the Highlander Center) deals with the practical advice students need before they take on debt as well as the destructive trends in the corporatization of higher education that have created the current debt crisis. The training includes a call to action and some ideas for next steps for activism.

Areas:  Activism on Campus, Financial Aid

Format:  Interactive Activities, Presentation, Discussion, Handouts, Participant Sharing, Small Groups , Practical Info/Tools

Audience:  Students, Grad Students, Faculty, Administrators

Room: Pendleton 122