Letters to a First-Generation Student

Douglas Orzolek

"While our backgrounds may be different, I have no doubt that I can relate to your thoughts and feelings as you contemplate your future--one that I hope will include the University of St. Thomas! I am currently in my 18th year at UST and I have found it to be a warm and welcoming community that works diligently to support all of its students in ways that help them develop and grow. It is a very special place."

Douglas - Douglas Orzolek

Helen Johnson

"Here is my first tip for you: breaks are wonderful! I say this especially to the people who have no idea what they want to do with their lives. My second tip for you dear reader, is to go to community college! Even if it is just for your generals. Third tip, ask for help! I grew up having to figure things out on my own and as consequence I became very independent and never learned how to ask for help. My last tip to you is to use your voice. I don't think people ever take the time to tell students how much power they actually have in their circumstances."

Helen - Helen Johnson

Erika Schuerer

"My college years were dotted with moments when I sensed a major difference between most of my peers and me. Their families were middle-class or higher, one, if not both, of their parents had attended college, and they were Americans. It has not been a smooth path in the least, but I'm glad to walk it. As I matured and began to reflect on my status as a first-generation college student, I realized that it was not only the source of my cluelessness and discomfort in the academic world, but a source of strength as well."

Erika - Erika Schuerer

Molly Rausch

"My mom and dad both attended school after high school but only received two-year degrees. Because of this, I was surprised to know that I was considered a first-generation college student. I thought a first-generation college student was the first person in their entire family, even beyond their parents, to attend any post-secondary institution, but that is certainly not the case. The beauty of schools like St. Thomas is that there are people everywhere, in every department, that are there to help you answer any question you have. Another piece of advice I have for incoming college students, especially first-gen students, is that regardless of your background or experience, that you got into the University of St. Thomas on your own merit and because of your abilites, so don't feel as though you aren't supposed to be here or that this place isn't meant for you because if it wasn't you wouldn't have been accepted in the first place."

Molly - Molly Rausch