If you’re the first person in your family to attend college, it’s OK to be both excited and fearful about what life on campus will bring. It’s normal to struggle to understand new processes and terminology and feel a little lost in a new place. The good news is you’re not alone. Many other students, faculty and staff members in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, including the dean of the college, Dr. Shane C. Burgess, also were first-generation students and found ways to overcome their fears and anxieties to earn their college degrees.
We want to support you, inspire you, and help you succeed throughout your college journey. That’s why we created the CALS First Cats program for first-generation students in the UA’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. As a first-generation student in CALS, you’ll have opportunities to meet CALS faculty and staff who either were first-generation students themselves or have committed to helping first-generation students successfully transition to college. We offer a variety of workshops, mentoring opportunities, and social events in our college just for first-generation students like you.
Am I A First-Generation Student?
First-generation student may be a term that you’re not quite sure of, and you may be wondering whether you are a first-generation student. You’re a first-generation student if:
- You come from a home where neither your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) completed a four-year bachelor’s degree, or
- Your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a country outside of the United States, or
- Your parents are separated or divorced and the parent with primary custody, whom you live with a majority of the time, does not have a bachelor’s degree, or
- You were/are a homeless youth, in the foster care system, or a ward of the state
Want to get involved with the CALS First Cats? Email Nancy Rodriguez Lorta.
Why Should I Become Involved?
Every day, we strive to create an inviting and inclusive environment for all CALS students--one that we hope to include you in! To ensure first-generation students like yourself feel a part of the CALS family, First Cats was created to foster connections between new first-generations students, current students, faculty, and staff. Every other week (twice a month), First Cats come together for mixers, facul-teas, presentations, and more to help you navigate all of the excitement, stress and uncertainty of college. First Cats is a home away from home for first-generation CALS members, and we hope you'll become a part of our family! Check out our events by clicking First Cats Events and come visit us! If you're still uncertain that we're the group for you, Email Nancy Rodriguez Lorta.
A Special Message For First Gen Students from Dr. Shane C. Burgess
If you're the first in your family to attend college, I know exactly what that's like. I didn't know at the time, and I wish someone had told me, that it's OK to be both excited and fearful about what your new life attending university will bring. It's completely usual as a first gen student to struggle to understand university processes, terminologies and seemingly secret codes that everyone else seems to know, but you don't. If you're like I was, you'll feel a little lost in a new place.
The good news is you're not alone. Many other students, faculty and staff members in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences also were first-generation students and found ways to overcome their unique first gen challenges and their understandable fears and anxieties to earn their college degrees. Please never feel embarrassed about asking the people around you what something means — I do this even now.
In the lobby of our Forbes Building, we have a space dedicated to all of our students. We also have a special program for first gen students that includes our first gen employees, who will be happy to help you take advantage of what will be a life-changing time at The University of Arizona.
Welcome to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences!