First in My Family Program Supports Student Success
Launched in 2019, First in My Family is a scholarship program designed to support first-generation college students at Carroll Community College.
Being the first in your family to go to college is exciting—and challenging.
“Students whose parents went to college can help them navigate the bureaucracy, know what questions to ask, what is important, and other things that someone who is new to college wouldn’t know unless they had a parent or mentor who could explain college to them,” explained April Herring, Senior Director of Advising and Retention at Carroll.
“It’s a hard transition for most students,” Herring continued. “Add to that the stress of not understanding the ins and outs [of college] and it can be overwhelming.”
Enter the First in My Family (FIMF) program, which pairs first-generation college students with a mentor who was also first generation, as well as connects them to other first-generation college students. The program guides participants every step of the way toward their educational goals, from advising them on financial aid and what courses to take for a seamless transfer, to coaching them on how to achieve an effective work/school/life balance and how to start a career that best suits their interests.
Being the first in my family [to attend college] meant not only was I allowed to work hard and earn a degree, but I was also provided with the opportunity to inspire family members and society that anything is possible.
Benefits of the First in My Family Program
“We want our first-generation college students to feel a sense of belonging here at Carroll and being a part of this program helps reinforce that,” said April Stevens, Counselor/Advisor at Carroll. “The First in My Family program gives its students the opportunity to connect and form relationships with a diverse group of students as they experience college together. We provide encouragement, guidance and community so that students don’t feel they are alone.”
In addition to a scholarship ($600 for full-time students; $300 for part-time students), participation in the First in My Family program helps students:
- Connect to campus resources
- Adapt to Carroll Community College
- Receive practical advice and support
- Recognize and optimize their abilities
- Enjoy opportunities such as membership to Tri-Alpha honor society
- Learn from other first-generation college staff and faculty
“Staff and faculty have helped me become successful through tutoring, academic and career advice, counseling services, food locker, personal enrichment events and our First in My Family meetings,” said Rita Fricker, an FIMF student majoring in Biology. “Another amazing part of the FIMF program is having the opportunity to meet with a hand-picked mentor who is very knowledgeable and excited to work with students and was also a first-generation college student in the past.”
Sean Owens, an FIMF student majoring in Unmanned Aircraft Systems, agrees the program has helped him in numerous ways. “The FIMF advisors have introduced me to key staff members here at Carroll to help me gain a better understanding of what to do to stay focused and to succeed during my time here.”
Aim Higher & Inspire
First-generation college students possess certain advantageous strengths—enthusiasm, self-control, curiosity, perseverance, optimism, gratitude and social intelligence—that serve them well as a college student. The FIMF program helps them tap into these strengths while also providing them with all the information and resources they need to best navigate college.
Sean Owens feels fortunate to be the first in his family to attend college, and praises Carroll as a college that cares. “Carroll Community College is a shining example of bigger is not better,” he said. “Where the staff of a major university would look at much of their student body as strangers on the street, Carroll wants to know you and your goals. Then they set off to help you achieve your goals.”
“Being the first in my family [to attend college] meant not only was I allowed to work hard and earn a degree,” Rita Fricker said, “but I was also provided with the opportunity to inspire family members and society that anything is possible.”
“We know that being the first in your family to attend college is a major accomplishment,” said April Herring. “That level of commitment is something we want to support and celebrate!”