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Seminole State College of Florida’s First Generation Freshmen Program is celebrating its 2013-14 successes and looking ahead to its first graduates this summer.

More than 50 students in the First Generation Freshmen Program and their family members attended an end-of-year celebration at the Wayne M. Densch Discovery Center at the Central Florida Zoo on Thursday, April 24.

Navigating through the obstacles for first-generation students – those whose parents did not attend or graduate from college – is no simple feat, says Dr. Jan Lloyd-Lesley, associate vice president of student development.

“There’s no road map. There’s no how-to guide,” Lloyd-Lesley told students and parents who attended the event.

 Jan Lloyd-Lesley, Stephanie Vivas, Jesimar Rivera and Tanya Fritz.

Jan Lloyd-Lesley, Stephanie Vivas, Jesimar Rivera and Tanya Fritz.

First Generation Freshmen Program highlights include:

  • Of the program’s 54 2013-14 scholarship recipients, 94 percent re-enrolled for their second semester, and more than half earned a spot on the Dean’s or President’s List after their first semester.
  • Since the program’s inception, 24 students have gained leadership and mentorship skills by serving as peer facilitators in the mentoring program.

At the event, two students participating in the program, who also served as peer facilitators, shared their perspectives and experiences.

“At first, it was stressful since my family and friends didn’t understand the pressure I’m under,” said Stephanie Vivas, a Seminole High School graduate who is on track to graduate this summer. “They didn’t get that along with college comes the pressure of homework, studying and the time it takes to do all of it. They’re all proud of me now and more understanding now than the first semester.”

“It feels great to be a part of this and a part of the program,” said Jesimar Rivera, also planning to graduate this summer. “I know it makes my parents proud; it makes them feel like they’re doing something right.”

The First Generation Freshmen Program, which started in August 2012, is supported through funds from the Orlando Magic Youth Fund (OMYF) and Wayne M. Densch Charities Inc. Vivas, a Wayne M. Densch Scholar, received $4,000 over the course of two years. Rivera, also a graduate of Seminole High School, received $6,000 over the course of two years from the OMYF.

Vivas and Rivera plan to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. Rivera plans to teach at the elementary level and later become a principal; Vivas plans to work as a guidance counselor in a high school.

First-generation students graduate at a significantly lower rate, even when demographics, motivation, academic preparation, academic progress, grade point average and income are accounted for, Lloyd-Lesley said. At Seminole State, first generation students account for about 25 percent of the student body.

“The First Generation Freshmen Program offers guidance for first-time-in-college, first generation students,” said Tanya Fritz, first-year experience program coordinator. “The program seeks to increase retention and graduation rates of first generation students.”

The First Generation Freshmen Program is dedicated to supporting incoming first-time-in-college, first-generation students at Seminole State College and provides services including personalized academic advising, financial aid assistance and scholarship information and more. For more information, visit the First Generation Freshmen Program website.

 

Go State. Go Far.

Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965 and a part of the public Florida College System, serves more than 32,000 students across six sites in Central Florida with campuses in Altamonte Springs, Heathrow, Oviedo and Sanford/Lake Mary. Seminole State offers 200 degrees, certificates and programs, including five bachelor’s degrees. Seminole State is ranked 15th in the nation for number of Associate in Arts degrees conferred. For more about the college, visit www.seminolestate.edu, and follow us on Facebook, www.facebook.com/seminolestate, and Twitter @seminolestate.

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Media contact: Danielle Chandonnet, 407.708.2896, [email protected]

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