The “First in the Family” community at Pacific Lutheran University is one of many ways the university is fostering a sense of belonging for Lutes who identify as first-generation college students. The two wings — located in Stuen Hall as part of PLU’s collection of themed Residential Learning Communities — offer support to self-identified “first in the family” students, or those whose parents didn’t graduate from four-year, degree-granting institutions in the U.S.
The community allows students to develop their own definition of what it means to be first, while also benefiting from the shared experiences of their peers. It also allows them to explore the ways in which their first-generation status intersects with other salient identities, and how those shape their college experiences.
In addition to the residential community, first-generation Lutes are invited to attend first-in-the-family-focused events across campus. Among them is the first-in-the-family dinner, most recently held in November. It brought together faculty, staff, and residential and commuter students, to give first-generation Lutes another opportunity to share challenges and triumphs.
Other past examples of programming focused around first-in-the-family students include:
- #PLUFIF Series: dinners with faculty, film screenings, an annual first-in-the-family retreat, and more
- Panels geared toward sharing the first-generation college experience with PLU peers
- Overnight hosts for first-generation prospective students
- Visits to local high schools by first-generation Lutes, to share stories about the college experience
- Field trips to campus resources such as the library
STRENGTHS OF FIRST-GENS
How first-gens thrive
For those learning to navigate the language and culture of college, there are five things every current and incoming first-in-the-family student should know.