Sac State launches support center for first-generation students

Services include workshops on time management, budgeting, mental health


Rahul Lal

The new Center for First-Generation Student Initiatives hosted a virtual launch on Tuesday Sept. 8, 2020 to welcome students who identify as first-generation. The center will provide support and services to these students including workshops on money management, time management, mental health and doing taxes.

Samaha Samy and Gavin Rock

Sacramento State’s Center for First-Generation Student Initiatives hosted a virtual launch and welcome of first-generation students Tuesday morning.

Student Equity Leaders Sylvia Hernandez and Andrew Yang hosted the event. Both are first-generation students at Sac State.

The center’s mission is to support and provide resources to first-generation students to succeed in their academic lives and help them build a collegial network of faculty, staff, students and alumni who identify as first-generation, Hernandez said. 

Sac State had 9,341 first-generation students in fall 2019, which was about 30% of Sac State students, according to enrollment data.

The center will offer workshops on money management, time management, mental health and doing taxes, Hernandez said. Students can sign up for seminars at the FGI web page.

First-generation students can face obstacles such as family stress, financial aid and time management between work and school. 

Hernandez said moving back to the Bay Area added new challenges to her life. 

“I had to step up my game and help out at home,” Hernandez said. “Cooking, cleaning, and all while balancing my commitment with school and my first year of field work in the social program.”

Yang, a senior majoring in recreation, parks and tourism administration, told participants about his experience with virtual learning.

“I’m the oldest, so right now I’m helping my sisters with learning virtually, and that’s a challenge in itself,” Yang said.

Sac State President Robert Nelsen spoke at the virtual launch. He said he is also a first-generation college graduate in his family.

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At Sac State, the majority of first-generation students are Hispanic, followed by Asian students, according to enrollment data from fall 2019.  

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According to Sac State’s Student Progression and Enrollment Dashboard, four-year graduation rates for first-time, first-generation freshmen rose from 10.5% among students who began in fall 2014 to 17.7% in those beginning fall 2015. In the same timeframe, graduation rates for first-time, non first-generation freshmen rose from 17.3% to 22%. 

Overall, the 6.8% graduation rate gap between first-generation and non first-generation students who started in fall 2014 decreased to a 4.3% gap for those beginning in fall 2015.

Sac State staff encouraged attendees to take advantage of their faculty. Dean of the College of Arts & Letters Sheree Meyer said that she herself is a first-generation student. 

“You might be surprised to find how many of your faculty and staff are first-generation,” Meyer said.