Clovis Community College celebrated students who are the first-generation of their family to attend college on November 5.
Faculty and staff from TRiO, a free federal program for first-generation, low-income, and students with disabilities were on campus commemorating the day.
Nov. 8 became the date to honor the signing of the Higher Education Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson. HEAs purpose is to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background, has an equal opportunity for a higher education.
Out of this act emerged Federal programs such as TRiO to act as a support system and guide students through their college journey.
Some of the services they provide for students are one-on-one counseling, scholarship opportunities, UC and CSU campus tours, and even priority registration.
Angelita Zaragoza, counselor and coordinator for TRiO was on campus to shine light on the program as well as honor students, faculty, and staff who are first-gen.
They celebrated the third annual First-generation College Celebration by having a photo booth, music, and activity. The event was open to first-gen students and to anyone who is a supporter of them.
“Our goal is to get students to earn a degree and eventually transfer, and really gear them for their educational goal,” Zaragoza said.
Students can explore campuses like UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA and CSU Bakersfield. All for no cost, thanks to TRiO.
They also have events students can attend where they have the opportunity to network with others.
“Students sometimes don’t really know a lot of students on campus so this gives them an opportunity to know each other and make friends,” Zaragoza said.
Zaragoza is a first-gen graduate herself so she understands the struggles students can go through.
“It can get overwhelming and scary when your from the valley and it is your tradition or you don’t envision yourself outside of Fresno County,” she said. “But there is so much more out there and exposing students to that and encouraging them and telling them, you can do this!”
Clovis Community have seen a rise in their first-gen students. Between the 2015-16 to 2017-18 school year there have been 1,452 more first-gen students attending the college.
Community colleges statewide have also had a 6.9% increase in first-gen students between 2015-16 to 2017-18.
With the support from programs like TRiO first-gen students are recognized and commended for achieving a huge accomplishment.
These programs give students the encouragement and knowledge to successfully complete their college journey.