First Generation

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About this Project

GBC's Challenges and Triumphs Project began when GBC's former President, Dr. Paul Killpatrick (himself first in his family to attend college) read an article describing the First Generation website at Fresno State. He was moved by what he saw and immediately envisioned such a site to benefit the students of rural Nevada.

Not long after he engaged Dr. Dorothy Moore to head the project and GBC's webmaster Susanna Dorr set to work with a design, compelling statistics came to light. More than most (if not all) other colleges in the nation, GBC can be aptly termed a college for the first generation.

Nevada is 46th among the states in numbers of adults with an associate or baccalaureate degree -- meaning that Nevada's college students are much more likely to be first generation college attendees in their families than students in other states.

Moreover, among Nevada colleges, GBC has by far the most first-generation students who apply for financial assistance (the only student group for whom statistics of this kind were kept in the past).

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What this means is that likely most of GBC's students face the special challenges of being first in an undertaking. These challenges may include lack of:

  • awareness about the process of enrolling in college and about what's expected once one does enroll;
  • financial, moral, and intellectual support for college aspirations from families and peer groups; and
  • information about the life-long benefits of a college education in a larger world, specifically that a college education enlarges a person's choices about where and how to live, enhances the potential for upward mobility, expands versatility, and confirms a degree of self-esteem not readily available in other ways.

First generation students also bring with them a tremendous visionary potential, in that they may have grown up in an atmosphere about which other college students and the educated population at large may know little. With higher education, they may be able to empathize with and speak to valuable points of view that may not otherwise be voiced, perceived, or appreciated in society.

The administration, faculty, and staff at Great Basin College are seeking increased awareness of the specific needs of first generation students and ways to address those needs. Most of all, GBC recognizes and celebrates the courage it takes to be first.

As the project evolved, Dr. Moore was moved by the enthusiasm and passion it generated in GBC's faculty and staff. Knowing that all stories are precious, she saw no reason to exclude tales from second or third generation college graduates telling of obstacles overcome to achieve the goal. These are told in the "Additional Stories" link at left.