Here to Help: First-Generation Center
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti
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By Lidia Gutierrez
Many students who arrive at Sam Houston State University every semester are the first in their families to attend college. Approximately 50 percent of the undergraduate students at SHSU, along with many staff and faculty, are first-generation. A student is considered first-generation if neither parent nor guardian earned a bachelor’s degree in the United States.
SHSU has developed a “one-stop-shop” to help these students navigate their journey through college through the First-Generation Center, located on the second floor of the Newton Gresham Library next to the Academic Success Center.
“I’m also a first-generation student,” said Lieutenant Colonel Joe Contreras, executive director of the First-Gen Center. “When I see the students, it reminds me of myself 25 years ago.”
The center coordinates all first-generation initiatives out of Academic Affairs.
“What we’re doing is connecting first-generation students to resources on campus,” Contreras said. “Talking to the families that don’t speak English is a different type of support. It’s not financial support, but pride. They, too, can and are a part of this experience.”
The center just opened this fall, but Contreras has many plans in the works for the coming years. Currently, the center is offering one-on-one mentoring appointments.
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