Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Samantha LaRose '17
The first segment of the “First Generation in College at Siena” discussion series was held Tuesday, January 31. Todd Snyder, Ph.D., assistant professor of English was the series’ first speaker.
The “First Generation” discussion series aims to let students who are the first generation in their families to attend college know that members of the Siena community can relate to their experiences. “I view this speaking series as an opportunity to share with students that there are faculty on campus who are also first generation and for students to know that others have had similar challenges and persevered,” explained Snyder.
Almost all of the students in attendance had a connection to the event because they are a first generation student, meaning that they are the first in their family to attend a four-year college to attain a bachelor's degree. Many expressed their own frustrations stemming from being a first generation student, such as a lack of understanding on their parents’ behalf because they have not gone through the experience. Snyder interacted with each student individually, listening to their stories and offering words of encouragement.
Snyder, who hails from a small, rural town in West Virginia, shared his own experiences as a first generation student as well as how his isolated community contributed toward his struggle to obtain a degree. Snyder offered advice to the students in the room on how to best take advantage of their situation and to not let the fact that they are first generation students discourage them from reaching for their dreams.
At the end of the event, Snyder informed the crowd that many Siena community members have expressed interest in sharing their own stories as part of the discussion series. He explained that so often students mistakenly assume that their professors come from privileged, educated backgrounds without realizing that many come from similar beginnings, which causes first generation students to be less likely to seek their advice and assistance.
Hosting discussions, such as the “First Generation in College at Siena” series, helps to connect Siena students with other community members, getting to know their stories and the threads that connect them as Saints.