The UTPB supports first-generation middle school students

Senior Joshua Lujan credits much of his success in college to UTPB and those close to him for helping him along the way.

ODESSA, Texas — Making the transition from high school to college can be tricky and sometimes scary. This may be especially the case for first-generation college students.

This is why the University of Texas Permian Basin has gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide support for these students.

UTPB is made up of nearly 50% first-generation students, and the university has just received the designation of first-generation institution for its work in supporting these students.

It also creates opportunities and accessibility for students.

“We are here to serve them, to let them know that we value them as individuals, and that we understand and hear their struggles,” said Diana Balderrama, Director of Student Belonging and Inclusion. . “First generation students tend to be the ones who have no idea how college works, what their experience will be like.”

Although only recently awarded the First-Gen Forward designation, UTPB has been helping first-generation students like second-year senior Joshua Lujan navigate the college experience for much longer.

“Being a first-generation college student wasn’t the easiest,” Lujan said. “Usually when you think about having other siblings and family and stuff, you want to have people to guide you through the process, and no one’s been through that before, it’s been a bit difficult because you went out there on the road all alone.”

UTPB also offers opportunities like a freshman seminar to help students acclimatize.

“We kind of just went through the process of figuring things out together,” Lujan said. “Some of us were all first generation, some of us had siblings who were in college, and we kind of figured out what college was like and what we expected to do. “

It also creates opportunities for growth outside of the classroom.

“I am very grateful for the support this university has given,” Lujan said. “They believed in me. I had so many opportunities to do so many different things. I was the campus activities council coordinator, I studied a lot with my choral studies in the music department.”

Lujan said he has received a lot of support from his family and friends, and he believes other potential first-generation students can also be successful.

“For anyone wondering ‘Can I do this? I’ve never had anyone in my life go to college or get a degree or anything like that.’ I would say turn to the people you love the most,” Lujan said. “They will support you, they will uplift you and look to the people who work here at this university because they want you to succeed.”

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