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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

The “Why Wofford” of first-generation college students

Caroline Parker
On Nov. 7, The First Gen Swag Giveaway happened on the seal of Old Main. Nov. 8 – 12 is National First Generation College Celebration week, and Wofford is celebrating with different events around campus to celebrate.

One of the ways Wofford supports its students is through celebrating first-generation college students.

A first generation college student is a student whose parents did not complete a four-year degree.

“My parents said when I was younger, ‘If you have the opportunity to go to college you should,’ because they didn’t have that same opportunity,” said Wilton Grice ‘26. “They said that it would open up doors that you wouldn’t have unless you went to college.”

Several students who grew up in this position did not know that they would end up at Wofford.

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“I always thought I was going to Clemson because I grew up there,” said Emma Skelton ‘24. “We’re a huge Clemson family, and I was like, I’m going to go to Clemson to be a teacher, and I stayed at Clemson and I toured it.”

What made Wofford stand out amongst the crowd of other colleges in the area, though, is its support system, smaller class sizes and positive community.

Each of these aspects are attention grabbing to any prospective student, especially to first generation students

James Stukes, assistant dean of student success and college access, serves as a resource for all students, particularly first generation students, and helps them to feel supported during their time at Wofford.

“Dr. Stukes was a first-generation student as well so he’s very supportive of his students,” said Kelsey Wheeler ‘26, another first generation student.

As a fellow first generation college student, Stukes tries his best to cultivate a community across campus for first generation students.

“They do activities where you get to talk to other first-generation students. I feel like if I needed help with something about being first generation, I would have adequate resources,” Skelton said. “If I had gone to a bigger school, I don’t think I could have been president of my sorority. I don’t think I could have been student body vice president.”

She credits these leadership roles to the support system that Wofford has to offer as well as the small-knit community feel that it gives her.

“I know I would have a completely different college experience if I went somewhere else,” Skelton said.

Wofford celebrated its sixth annual “First Gen Week” throughout the week of Nov. 5 to Nov. 8, where Stukes led several events for first generation college students, including bonding activities and giveaways. 

Wofford Firsts, an organization dedicated to helping first generation college students navigate the ins and outs of college life, helps to put these events together.

On Sunday, Nov. 5, they hosted a movie night where they watched “Blue Beetle,” a film starring a first generation college graduate. On Nov. 6, they had a tailgate before the men’s basketball season opener against Brevard College. 

Tuesday had two events, which were a first generation swag giveaway and bowling night. The week-long celebration concluded with Wofford inducting their inaugural class of members into the Alpha Alpha Alpha national honor society for first generation college students.

For more information on first generation services and programs, reach out to Wofford student success services. Contact James Stukes at [email protected] for more information. 

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About the Contributors
Brandi Wylie
Brandi Wylie, Editor-In-Chief
Education Major from Spartanburg, SC
Catherine Lesesne
Catherine Lesesne, Staff Writer
English Major from Greensboro, NC
Caroline Parker
Caroline Parker, Visual Media Editor
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