Angela Torres

Angela Torres enjoys sharing what she has learned at NAU with other first-generation students

A documentary, panel and workshops geared toward high school students interested in learning more about college and Northern Arizona University is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 24.

At NAU, programs are in place to assist first-generation students, whose parents did not attend college. These students typically leave college at higher rates compared to students with a college-educated parent.

The film, First Generation, will be at 1 p.m. in the Cline Library Auditorium. Following the documentary, a series of informational workshops will be offered and a panel of first-generation NAU students will share their experiences with the audience.

“These students’ families might not have talked about what it means to go away to college, to move away for one, to live with a roommate, to engage in the social activities of college, so they haven’t had that storyline along the way,” said Wendy Bruun, director of First-generation Programs and Initiatives.

About 40 percent of freshmen and 30 percent of NAU’s total enrollment is made up of first-generation students. In addition to helping high school students learn about academic preparation and details about applying for college and financial aid, numerous programs are in place to help students after they transition to campus.

First-generation students benefit from mentors and support staff who help them navigate the university. Peer-led workshops cover topics from budgeting and time management to leadership.

Senior Angela Torres credits NAU’s First-Generation Programs for supporting her academically, financially and emotionally. “At NAU, I felt more connected because of the program. And I have really small classes so it is easy to approach my teachers with questions,” said Torres, who will graduate in May with a dual major in Criminal Justice and Spanish.

Some of the programs supporting first-generation students include the federal TRIO program, the STAR Summer Bridge program, where students spend time on campus during the summer before classes begin and the newly implemented First Scholar Program. The Suder Foundation is funding the First Scholar Program, which provides $5,000 each year for 20 first-generation students and is expected to grow dramatically in future academic years.