Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

WT Professor’s New Book Offers Advice for First-Generation College Students


CANYON, Texas — A West Texas A&M University faculty member’s new book speaks directly to students facing fears about being the first in their family to attend college.

“First-Gen Stories for Success,” available now in hardback and ebook formats from Kendall Hunt Publishing, features 12 chapters written by Dr. George Pacheco Jr., WT associate professor of communication, and several WT colleagues, as well as scholars from around the country.

Pacheco, a professor in WT’s Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities, said he hopes first-generation students “get a sense of self” from reading the essays.

“I want them to see themselves walking down a path that others have successfully crossed,” Pacheco said. “We wrote this directly to students, not to academics.”

Essays discuss the balance between a student’s goals and their family’s plans, the importance of student organizations and mentorship, and how to create a path to success, among other topics.

“When I looked around, there was nothing available like this,” said Pacheco, the founding adviser for WT’s F1RSTGEN student organization and himself a first-generation student. “I want this book to help these students find their way by learning from the authors’ own stories. I hope the students see themselves in those shoes.”

WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, offers numerous programs, services and initiatives for first-generation students, including the F1RSTGEN student organization. WT was named in March 2022 to the 2022-23 First-Gen Forward cohort, among 53 institutions around the country.

Currently, WT’s undergraduate population is almost 47 percent first-generation.

Other WT authors included in “First-Gen Stories” are Dr. Shanna Peeples, WT’s John G. O’Brien Distinguished Chair in Education; Dr. Nancy Garcia, assistant professor of media communication; Dr. Lisa Garza, associate professor of sociology; and Jonathan Cordova, program coordinator for Study Abroad and Nationally Competitive Scholarships.

Reflecting and serving the diverse population of the Texas Panhandle, including first-generation students, is a key mission of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021— has raised more than $125 million and will continue through 2025.


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