November 8th marked the first annual first generation college student celebration. Staff and students from the TRIO program at Idaho State University passed out buttons and took pictures with first generation college students.
“So TRIO is actually a federal program that serves first generation, meaning neither parent has a four year college degree, limited income, students with disabilities, under represented students and it is a movement that started in the 1960’s with the war on poverty with Lyndon B. Johnson,” commented Sari Byerly, the executive director of the TRIO program at ISU.
For some of these students, the journey to a higher education has not been easy.
“It was fully my choice to leave home, leave everything behind and move here and start from scratch,” said Samantha Castro, a first generation college student at ISU.
Samantha will be the first in her family to have graduated high school and then college.
“My mom went to 9th or 8th grade in Mexico. My father went to 2nd grade in Mexico. So yes, I will be the first in my family to finish high school and go to college,” Castro added.
Programs like TRIO offer support and assistance to students who might not have the outside support they need to help them apply to college.
“Historically it is the middle and upper class that have had access to these resources and have the family that passes down those tid bits and rules of how to navigate bureaucracy of a higher education and we want to make sure that access is to everyone,” said Byerly.
While the road to college has not always been an easy one, students at ISU offered encouragement to future first generation college students.
“There is definitely, especially TRIO and other resources that will help them, so do not give up on your dream,” said first generation college student Stephanie Vera.
“Do your best, have fun and achieve your goals so you can have a better future and enjoy life,” said Francisco Maria, another first generation college student.
For more information about the TRIO program, click here.