First-Generation College Student Event Celebrates Bold Steps Toward College Completion

Texarkana College

October 30, 2017- Texarkana, TX If you are the first person in your family to attend college, you have set an important precedent for future generations. Your decision to enroll in a post-secondary program to earn your certificate or degree means it is likely that your quality of life will improve, and so will the lives of others in your family who follow in your footsteps.

People who have completed a higher education credential make more money, have more opportunities to reach their career goals and live healthier lives than those who earn only a high school diploma (data obtained from Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board- 60x30TX.) The experience of a first-generation college student is rewarding yet complicated, and it can be laden with pressure beyond the classroom. As a family pioneer to the college culture, balancing financial needs, work schedules and family obligations can be a huge challenge. And that’s why there’s support available at Texarkana College to help you navigate the process, learn about your options and stay afloat when you feel like you’ve gotten into deep water.

Three federally-funded TRIO programs are housed on the TC campus to aid first-generation college students. The Talent Searchprogram, established through the Higher Education Act of 1965, assists students in junior high and high school prepare for college entrance or re-entrance. The program provides academic, career, and financial counseling to participants and encourages them to graduate from high school and continue on to complete their post-secondary education. They also offer field trips to regional college campuses, help students establish a solid foundation for good study habits, and provide preparation courses for college entrance exams.

The Student Support Services program provides resources for academic development to first- generation college students who are often Pell-grant eligible.

The most recent addition to the TRIO program line-up at TC is the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC). This unique program helps adults select a post-secondary education program and obtain federal financial aid.

Although all three the programs are located at TC, advisors help students prepare for admission into the college of their choice and provide resources regardless of their school affiliation.

According to the Texas Higher Education Board, about one-third of students enrolled in today’s colleges are first generation students. However, at TC, more than 75% of students are the first in their family to go to college.

“Although there’s been an awareness of the unique struggles surrounding first-generation students for several decades, campuses and communities have become blind to the impact on this population and its future,” said Dr. Tonja Mackey, TC’s Executive Director of TRIO programs. “It’s important to acknowledge that barriers do exist for people who have little to no knowledge of the steps needed to prepare for successful college admission and completion. TC’s TRIO programs provide students with easy access to counselors to ask questions, obtain assistance with completion of paperwork and forms, and help guide their journey until they’ve completed their credential.”

Mackey says celebrating students who have taken these bold steps is important. On November 8, the inaugural First-Generation College Student Celebration will be held across the nation as well as on the TC campus to recognize first-generation college students who have committed to reaching their full potential through attainment of a higher education degree or credential.

“The initiative was developed by the Council for Opportunity in Education and supported by NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education to bring awareness to the needs of this special population and to celebrate their success across America,” Mackey said. “At TC, we will host an event at 10:30 a.m. in the Library Plaza where first-generation college students will be recognized by Texarkana Mayors Bob Bruggeman (TX) and Ruth Penny Bell (AR) through a special joint proclamation.”

Mackey said refreshments and door prizes will be available at the event, and students will learn about a new first-generation regalia cord available for graduates.

“It will be a great day to celebrate success and brighter futures for generations to come!” Mackey said.

More information on TC’s Student Support Services and the Educational Opportunity Center programs can be found on TC’s website at

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