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First-Generation Student Organization aims to help first-gen students through mentorship, community

First-Generation Student Organization aims to help first-gen students through mentorship, community

First-Generation Student Organization aims to help first-gen students through mentorship, community
January 23
08:00 2020

Community-based student organizations at UNT have expanded with the addition of the First Generation Student Organization, which is ready to welcome new members for the spring 2020 semester. The organization is led by Dalton Dickson, who is serving as the president.

In the school year of 2018-2019, 41 percent of the undergraduate population were first-generation students, according to the Office of Data, Analytics and Institutional Research.

“I knew that administrators were not going to be the ones who would need to create it for it to be successful,” Dickson said. “It would have to be student-led.”

The organization began to form during the summer of 2019. Dickson said he had realized there was not a lot of places that first-generation students could go to receive mentorship, advice and general information about common concerns.

“It feels like you should know what you’re doing, but no one actually knows what they’re doing,” Dickson said. “It’s easier for students who have had family members who could guide them when they have questions.”

Dickson began to use his Twitter account to reach others who would be interested. Kortnie Gohl, current director of outreach for FGSO, was one of the first people to reach out and wanted to help build the organization.

A first-generation student is a student whose parents have not earned a bachelor’s degree or equivalent.

Both Gohl and Dickson are first-generation students themselves. Gohl is the oldest sibling in her family to be earning a degree and Dickson is one of the first children in his family set to earn a bachelor’s degree from a university.

In the beginning, the process to create the organization was long, Dickson said. He began speaking about it with his advisor and soon after, his advisor passed along the idea through different organizations and the required departments. The idea was well-received and by Nov. 5 2019, FGSO was able to hold their first meeting, which was attended by around 20 students.

In this meeting, there were many people who stayed afterwards, Dickson said. The members expressed their gratitude for the organization and they wanted to know where they could find out more information about dates to attend future meetings.

For spring 2020, FGSO has expanded to their first executive board. The group has plans for outreach as well.

“We are planning on gaining funding to create a First-Generation Graduation,” Dickson said. “This is going to be to celebrate the [first-generation] students who will be graduating.”

While the social media channels are growing with the help of Gohl, the main goal of the organization is to have more reach on the campus. Meetings will be occurring every other week on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

Outside of meetings, there will also be small events where the members will be able to gather for panels to discuss struggles and different ways to help incoming and current first-generation students.

Dickson said that he and the other leaders are aware that most of the students who are a part of this organization work various jobs and have busy schedules. They want to make the meetings and events as accommodating as possible.

“It’s been great so far,” FSGO extracurricular coordinator Roy Jimenez said. “We just had our first executive board meeting and we got some cool things we want to do for the semester.”

Jimenez learned about the organization after seeing a post about it on Twitter and he said it stuck out to him because he was a first-generation student as well. He wanted to find out what it was and wanted to get other students to join also.

“I’m a Stage 3 cancer survivor and I have been in remission for three years this March,” Jimenez said. “I’m just so excited for this university and for the organization to see where it goes. I’m hoping that it grows so that other first-generation students will turn it into a tradition at UNT and keep it growing.”

The First Generation Student Organization can be found on both Twitter and Instagram under the handle @UNTFGSO.

Featured Image: Juniors Dalton Dickson and Kortnie Gohl pose together at the square on Jan. 14, 2020. Dickson and Gohl worked together to bring the First Generation Student Organization to UNT students. Image by Ricardo Vazquez Garcia

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Bertha Smith

Bertha Smith

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