The I’m First – UT Tyler program is a program that services the needs of first-generation college students on main campus as well as satellite campuses and those undertaking online coursework. This program understands that each first-generation college student experience is different from the next (and many of those experiences are based in intersectional identities), so our program is centered on information sharing, advocacy, and connections to UT Tyler students, faculty, and resources. We strive to provide a sense of belonging within our campus community, which is key to not only retention and completion but the success of each student’s journey with us. As such, one of our primary methods is advocacy on campus through open and accessible communication channels – we are the touchpoint for all first-gen student questions about anything UT Tyler or college related and direct them or take them to the appropriate office to aid them.
Every month we send out a checklist newsletter to all first-generation college students (including international students and non-degree seeking students) that highlights upcoming university deadlines, breaks, campus community events (like blood drives, game and movie nights, holiday celebrations, etc), and links to all resources like tutoring and supplemental instruction. In addition to the checklist, we have created a regularly-updated glossary of all university terms (with links to the appropriate contacts and webpages) that is posted on our website and circulated accordingly.
We also host our own events, such as scholarship application workshops in which students may come to learn how to find the best scholarships for their situations and demographics, how to write the best essay, and how to submit them. This is an all-day, 2-day service offered in-person, but online and distance students are free to make unlimited one-on-one appointments for the same purpose as well as for resume review. We also host come-and-go social events. Further, we honor these students by providing first-generation stoles at every graduation and present them at a free banquet for them and their families. They are also available for pickup at graduation check-in. We host tables at preview days and homeschool days with swag and information, and our newly formed student organization will have a presence at orientation as well as host their own peer-centered events.
Lastly, beginning in the 2022 fall semester, the first-generation living-learning community will open its first wing in an on-campus housing unit. It will have its own first-generation RA as well as weekly meetings with our office’s staff that serve to bring the university’s resources to the students directly, such as advising, tutoring, safe zone training, study halls, library liaison tutorials, and more. Further, these students will also participate in servant-leadership opportunities and get to experience the Tyler community on field trips.
DELIVERY FORMAT: The program has a hybrid format.
PROGRAM SCALE: Medium-scale (reaches between 10 and 25 percent of its target population)
APPROXIMATE PARTICIPANTS SERVED IN 2021-22: 110
HOW TO ENROLL: Participants are automatically enrolled in this program if they meet eligibility requirements
EVALUATION STATUS: No data related to outcomes have been collected from this program
DEPARTMENT(S) OVERSEEING PROGRAM: UT Tyler Office of Academic Success
CONTACT FOR MORE INFO: Sidney Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-565-5528