First-generation students have many programs, organizations to become involved in

St. Edward’s University offers several programs for first-generation students, like the McNair Scholars Program and the new First Generation Scholars student organization. 

The McNair Scholars Program provides research-related experiences and academic support to undergraduates who are interested in pursuing a PhD. This federally-funded program encourages first-generation college students from low-income families to seek a graduate education. Michael Baquet, a senior who is involved in the McNair Scholars program, discussed his thoughts with Hilltop Views as a first generation student involved with the program.

Baquet was inducted into the McNair Scholars Program  in December 2021 as a junior and spent the summer conducting his research on the difficulties of hurricane evacuations around the world. Baquet believes it is important for him, as a first generation student, to be involved with the McNair Scholars program for numerous reasons. Without this program, it would be harder for him to pursue his academic goals. 

Coming from a family where he is not only the first to graduate college but also the first to pursue  graduate school, he would have not been able to meet deadlines or know about important assignments to complete in order to go to grad school after college.

“I sound like I am exaggerating, but without this program, I don’t think I would be as successful as I am today,” Baquet said. “I am currently applying to grad school and there are a lot of deadlines so without the help of this program grad school would not have really been an option.”

This program provides students with several benefits like assistance on applying to graduate school, receiving mentorship from faculty members and conducting summer research internships. 

“Usually on Mondays and Wednesdays, I try to put at least an hour toward grad school applications, and on Fridays from 3:30-5 p.m. we have our class meeting where you can get help with anything,” Baquet said.

According to Baquet, first-generation students may feel that the playing field is uneven when it comes to college and graduate school, which is why these programs are necessary. 

“Don’t be afraid to do your research for this program on something that may seem bizarre or crazy. Just go for it,” Baquet said. “Don’t be afraid to go after the things that you believe you could truly benefit from.”