If you’re the first person in your family to attend college, it’s OK to be both excited and fearful about what life on campus will bring. It’s normal to struggle to understand new processes and terminology and feel a little lost in a new place.
The good news is you’re not alone.
Many other students, faculty and staff members in the College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences, including the dean of the college, Dr. Shane C. Burgess, were also first-generation students and found ways to overcome their fears and anxieties to earn their college degrees.
We want to support you, inspire you and help you succeed throughout your college journey. That’s why we created the CALES First Cats program for first-generation students in the UA College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences. As a first-generation student in CALES, you’ll have opportunities to meet CALES faculty and staff who either were first-generation students themselves or have committed to helping first-generation students successfully transition to college. We offer a variety of workshops, mentoring opportunities and social events in our college just for first-generation students like you.
"First-generation student" may be a term that you’re not quite sure of, and you may be wondering whether you are a first-generation student. You’re a first-generation student if:
- You come from a home where neither your parent(s) nor legal guardian(s) completed a four-year bachelor’s degree, or
- Your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a country outside of the United States, or
- Your parents are separated or divorced and the parent with primary custody, with whom you live a majority of the time, does not have a bachelor’s degree, or
- You were/are a homeless youth, in the foster care system, or a ward of the state
If any of these apply to you, we invite you to get involved with the CALES First Cats. To get started, contact Nancy Rodriguez Lorta.
Every day, we strive to create an inviting and inclusive environment for all CALES students — one that we hope to include you in! To ensure first-generation students like yourself feel a part of the CALES family, First Cats was created to foster connections between new first-generation students, current students, faculty and staff.
Every other week (twice a month), First Cats come together for mixers, facul-teas, presentations and more to help you navigate all of the excitement, stress and uncertainty of college. First Cats is a home away from home for first-generation CALES members, and we hope you'll become a part of our family! If you're still uncertain that we're the group for you, contact Nancy Rodriguez Lorta.
A special message for first-gen students from Dr. Shane C. Burgess
If you're the first in your family to attend college, I know exactly what that's like. I didn't know at the time, and I wish someone had told me, that it's OK to be both excited and fearful about what your new life attending university will bring. It's completely usual for a first-gen student to struggle to understand university processes, terminologies and seemingly secret codes that everyone else seems to know, but you don't. If you're like I was, you'll feel a little lost in a new place.
The good news is that you're not alone. Many other students, faculty and staff members in the College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences also were first-generation students and found ways to overcome their unique first-gen challenges and their understandable fears and anxieties to earn their college degrees. Please never feel embarrassed about asking the people around you what something means — I do this even now.
In the lobby of our Forbes Building, we have a space dedicated to all of our students. We also have a special program for first-gen students that includes our first-gen employees, who will be happy to help you take advantage of what will be a life-changing time at The University of Arizona.
Welcome to the College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences!