President McFaddin talks with students

EKU President David McFaddin talks to students at the first-generation social event on Aug. 13. The event connected first-generation students and involved a collaborative art project.

On Saturday, Aug. 13, students attended a first-generation social event hosted in Crabbe Library. The event was held to encourage success in first-generation college students as they embark on their college careers.

Starr Wentzel, director of first-year courses and learning communities, helped plan the event.

“This is the first gen student reception we have ever done,” said Wentzel. “We have invited faculty and staff across campus that are first gen as well as first gen advocates and we want students to know they have a support system, to be able to meet other people who come from similar backgrounds and know they have a support system while they are here.”

President McFaddin, who was also a first-generation college student, attended and spoke at the event. 

“This is a way that during the welcome week activities we have an event for our first-gen students to connect and understand there is a whole family of people at EKU who is rooting for them and supporting them and helping them get to where they are to being a college graduate,” McFaddin said.

The event provided those in attendance with time to socialize and hear success stories over ice cream and drinks.

“We know a lot of first-gen students who don’t necessarily have someone to answer questions about college at home,” Wentzel said. “We want them to know about the Student Success Center and various places on campus to reach out to.”

In addition to ice cream, the students also worked on a collaborative art project.

The art project, headed by Maggie Frozena, regarded her research on the encouragement and success of students. Students decorated papers placed atop graduation caps. One side represented who they wanted to leave behind, while the other side represented who they wanted to become at EKU.

“I wanted to get a chance to talk to people about how we can best serve our population here at Eastern. I wanted to do something communal for my research,” said Frozena. “My question was, ‘Does a personal connection to a faculty member and an opportunity to do a starting ritual together have a positive impact on students when they move into the classroom?’”

The papers will be displayed soon in Crabbe Library.

“Everyone has been enthusiastic and been doing great stuff,” Frozena said. “As a student, I was a first-generation college student and it’s important to me to see these students be encouraged and successful.”

This was the first time a first-generation college student event was held at the beginning of the academic year. Previously, first-generation college students were only recognized at graduation. 

“It’s just a really impactful part of the day at graduation,” McFaddin said. “It’s one that’s emotional, generational changing and I got to thinking about the fact we don’t celebrate them enough on the way in.”

McFaddin gave advice to students at the event.

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