By Kylie Heisz, Kayla Smith, & Emmy Wolfe
Starting college can be an intimidating adjustment, even for those students who have parents or siblings to give advice and insight about college experiences. For first-generation students, having resources of trusted family members or friends to offer them that insight is so helpful to others as they start their college journey.
The First Gen Phoenix Learning and Living Community (LLC) was created by UWGB Housing this past year to make the transition easier and help students feel more comfortable starting their college careers. The LLC offers a multitude of resources; these include a first-year seminar, events, and programs for first-generation students. Most prominently, the LCC is centered around the residence hall.
R.E. Small Hall, a regular freshman dorm, was transitioned to be the home of first-generation students. Currently, 50% of the occupancy is first-generation, while the other 50% is not. When speaking with Keely Palmer, a Resident Assistant (RA) in the LLC, Palmer hopes that in the future, the LLC will expand to 100% first-generation students in the building. Palmer also mentioned a club in the works of being created for first-generation students, called First Gen Phoenix. Palmer hopes it to be tied to the community in R.E. Small.
Cassie Dragosh, a first-generation UWGB student living in the LLC, said, “I couldn’t have asked for a better way to start her college career.” Dragosh said that “knowing I wasn’t alone in the transition, and living near others in a similar situation to me made it easier to connect and make friends.” As the LLC is a community designed to include and introduce students to a whole new way of life, Dragosh talked about how helpful the resources have been. After being helped to find her way around campus, navigating classes, and the caring attitude from her first-year seminar professor, Dragosh said, “I am so glad I decided to take part in the kickoff of the LLC.”
While the LLC is new and continues to adjust and change with feedback and new needs, it offers something the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay has not had before. With a continuous hope that it will grow and draw in more first-generation students, Dragosh said something that will encourage incoming students and influence them to choose the LLC. “Without a doubt, I would 100% choose to live here again. It’s made my transition so much smoother,” Dragosh said.