SCC Celebrates First-Generation College Students

Southeastern Community College students, faculty, staff and graduates participated in the 2021 National First-Generation College Celebration from November 4 - 8. The event celebrated students who were the first in their families to attend and graduate from college.

Over 60% of the student population at SCC identifies as the first-generation college students.

First-generation college students took part in a variety of activities and provided testimonials on what it means to be a first-generation student. 

SCC student organizations also celebrated first-generation faculty and staff. Window signs were displayed in the offices of first-generation faculty and staff to build connections among students and staff. Thanks to funding from the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and Center for First-Generation Student Success, first-generation students were given t-shirts.  

SCC’s TRIO programs spearheaded the event. TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) and TRIO Upward Bound (UB) are two federal funded grant programs from the Department of Education that provide services to first-gen college students. 

SCC President Dr. Michael Ash is a first-generation college student, himself. 

“Being the first generation in your family to go to college is a big deal,” Ash said. “It can be overwhelming trying to navigate the ins and outs of college when you don’t have anyone at home to help you out or share their experience. That’s why we always want to celebrate our first-gen students for making the commitment.”

During Dr. Ash’s tenure, SCC’s TRIO SSS and TRIO UB grant programs have been renewed and expanded, along with a partner program through Indian Hills Community College. TRIO programs serve students on both the Keokuk and West Burlington campuses with dedicated spaces and equipment, including computer labs, study rooms and group collaboration areas.  

TRIO SSS provides college success programming for 225 first-gen college students at SCC. In addition to access to dedicated facilities, program participants receive personalized advising services, career counselling and transfer assistance.

TRIO Upward Bound serves 63 high school students in the Burlington, Ft. Madison, and Keokuk school districts. It allows students to participate in pre-college advising services to assist in gaining access to post-secondary education. Many students from the UB program transfer to SCC each year.

Project Director Sibyl McIntire stressed the importance of TRIO programs.

“Our first-gen students are scholars who excel both academically and in co-curricular activities. The support TRIO programs offer through financial literacy and scholarship assistance are also critical to their continued success.”