F1RSTGEN Banquet celebrates students, community

West Texas A&M University’s F1RSTGEN organization held their first annual banquet honoring first-generation college students on Thursday in Jack B. Kelly Legacy Hall.

According to their page on the WT website, F1RSTGEN is a student-led organization that serves to provide support and encouragement for first-generation students. 

President Elisa Gonzales, a junior English education major, explained the day to day function of F1RSTGEN to students involved in the organization. “We are a second family to the students,” she said. “We want to be there for you… [because] first-gen means that your family didn’t go to college, that you are the first in your family. We want to help [students] through their journey at WT.” 

Vice President Gloria Torres, a junior corporate communications major, added that F1RSTGEN has helped her open doors to the communities of Canyon and Amarillo. “I want to grow [F1RSTGEN] and make it bigger. It has broadened my perspective of just what it means to be a first-generation student by myself, and I want to include that for students who are coming in,” she said.

Leslie Ascacio, a senior biology major and F1RSTGEN’s secretary, explained what made this week special for the organization. “We’ve had activities going on every day, trying to get members involved,” she said. 

Nov. 8 is First-Generation Day, and F1RSTGEN used the day as an opportunity to promote students for a whole week with events including school supply giveaways, a poster that first-generation students could sign their names on, and thank you notes that students could send to people who inspired them.

“[The banquet] is a representation to the community of what F1RSTGEN is and what we are doing on this campus,” Gonzales said. 

Part of this week’s celebration and the banquet was the Pulsera Project. 

Torres explained that the Project is “selling bracelets, headbands, and little purses and stuff to be able to actually help people outside of the US in Nicaragua.”

According to F1RSTGEN’s Facebook page, the Pulsera Project’s funds go to artisans in Central America to establish scholarships, worker’s rights campaigns, and other important resources. Torres added that the cause was close to home for F1RSTGEN as the organization is made up of predominantly Hispanic and Latinx students.

In addition to the Pulsera Project booth, the food served at the banquet was mainly Hispanic and Latinx, another nod to the demographic that makes up the majority of the organization.

The inaugural banquet featured guest speaker Dr. Lauren Salazar, an Amarillo native and WT alumna, who shared her personal experience as a first-generation student from undergrad and through medical school.

For information on future F1RSTGEN events, follow their Facebook page.


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