Staff Stories

First-Generation Day

First-Generation Experiences from ACD Staff

IUPUI celebrates First-Generation Day on Thursday, November 8. Did you know that staff members in ACD were first-generation college students? Learn a little more about them and their advice!

I'm First: First Generation Celebration

ACD Staff Advice

AC Stokes

AC Stokes

Student Success Advisor

A time in college that played a big impact: My big break in college came at the beginning of my sophomore year. I was a psychology major, and a new professor was added to the staff. I was excited because she was a black woman like me, and there were no people of color in the entire department faculty at the time. I did something very out of character and emailed her to let her know that I was excited about her joining the department. She emailed me back and invited me to be on her research team. Just like that (though she looked probably looked up my grades before making the offer). Before that moment, I didn't know that I could get paid or get credit for doing research with a faculty member (I did both). I also realized that I loved research. As a result of that the experiences that came with that offer, I presented research at four national conferences as an undergraduate, was a McNair Scholar for two years, and completed a senior independent research project. All because I emailed a professor I'd never met.

Suzanne Guinn

Student Success Advisor

A time in college that played a big impact: My first time in a residence hall three hours away from anyone that knew me, I was nervous and unsure of what to do next. I just moved into my residence hall, and my mom returned home a state away. I was sitting on the bottom bunk bed with my door closed in my tiny dorm room when I overheard other students in the hallway say: "I guess she doesn't want to talk to us. Her door is closed." I didn't understand that was the message I was sending out. I wanted to make friends, so I tiptoed over to the door (yes, I'm an introvert) and quietly opened my door and ran back to my bed. After awhile, people peeked in and introduced themselves. My unit was a great group of students, and we did plenty of things together. I ended up rooming with the initial roommate for all four years of college. We even got an apartment together for my last two years of my undergrad.

Melissa Cooper

Career Consultant

What advice would you give: Don’t be afraid to ask for help, or to ask questions even if you think you should know the answer already. We are in an era when there is more awareness and understanding for first-generation students than ever. Take advantage of that. PLEASE. We need your mind and your gifts and perspective for the foreseeable future and beyond.

Carlos Zapata

Student Success Advisor

What was your motivation for attending college: My parents instilled in me from a very early age that going on to complete ANY type of degree after high school was essential. I was motivated to get a degree because I knew that I did not like my work-related job after high school, and I knew that I did not want to do that job for the rest of my life.

Andrea Jarquin

Andrea Jarquin

Student Success Advisor

What advice would you give: First off, I am so proud of you. Getting here is no easy feat. Find your community. There are so many other first-generation college students—empower each other. And when you start thinking “does it get easier?” remember, it doesn’t get easier, but YOU get better. What was something you were afraid to ask: I was afraid to ask for help. I did not want anyone to attribute my asking for help to the fact that I was a first-generation college student. This is when I realized that everyone needs help sometimes!

Shelbi Fisher

Career Consultant

What advice would you give: Embrace change. Find mentors. Everything was new to me, and I felt like everyone knew what they wanted to do or what they wanted to major in besides me. It is perfectly fine to feel this way. Do your best and forget the rest. On the subject of mentors, try to find older students or professors you have made a connection with who are willing to answer your questions and provide advice on how to succeed in college. I owe a lot of my success to the people who have helped me along the way, and those relationships have become some of my most important friendships.