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First Gen Week brings students ‘back to the basics’ of self-care

First Gen Family at Saint Mary’s is supporting first-generation students, a term describing students who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year degree, with “First Gen Week: Back To The Basics.” 

The First Gen Family team scheduled the series for throughout this week, including a celebration dinner with a discussion from faculty, staff and students Tuesday, the same day as the National First-Generation College Celebration.

The week’s theme is learning about fundamental self-care practices despite the unique challenges of being a first-generation student, sophomore and First Gen Family president Thalia Mora said.

“You’re always working towards… proving that you’re able to be in the position you are because you’re the first in your family to be doing these things. Typically as a first gen student, you tend to put your schoolwork and others in front of yourself,” she said. “We really wanted to emphasize that you should be proud to be first gen but you should always be taking care of yourself in the process.”

Christin Kloski, the advisor for First Gen Family and an associate director of student equity at the college, said the First Gen Family executive team chose the theme because of the unique struggles of a student being the first in his or her family to attend college.

“I think a lot of times we see our first gen students struggling to balance a number of things, whether it’s being the first to go to college, with academics, the first to socialize in a college setting,” Kloski said. “We really wanted to focus on what it means to be a living, breathing student here on campus.”

Along with Tuesday’s dinner, the series hosted “Yoga and Succulents” on Monday and career advice events Wednesday. “Thrifty Thursday” will teach the value of upcycling clothing to save money and the series will conclude Friday evening with a cookie social in the LGBTQ Center.

According to Kloski, Saint Mary’s has 406 first-generation students, almost 30% of the total student population.

“We really wanted to take a lead on celebrating those students for every day of this week and to just empower and educate our community here at Saint Mary’s,” Kloski said. 

Saint Mary’s president Katie Conboy was the keynote speaker at Tuesday night’s celebration dinner, welcoming attendees with excitement about First Gen Family’s work, sophomore and vice president of First Gen Family Liliana Lomeli said.

“We had more girls show up for the yoga session than we had originally expected. And at the dinner, all the tables were full of faculty and staff. It’s just been an amazing turnout so far,” Lomeli said.

First-generation students often don’t come into school with as many connections as other students, Lomeli said, and the series attempted to resolve some of those disadvantages.

“A lot of other students come in, they know how to network and have those connections, but the series is just back to the basics,” Lomeli said. “We didn’t want to overwhelm our first-gen students but we also wanted to provide a safe space, provide them with the tools to succeed.”

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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