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5 ½ Things About First-Generation College Students


Kaylie Jones with cap and gown posing on campus

Did you know this Wednesday is First-Gen Day? It’s not the most well-known holiday, but we’re all about celebrating worthy things. National First-Generation College Student Celebration Day (or simply First-Gen Day) is a day to recognize trailblazers in our campus community. Keep reading to learn about some of the first-generation Broncos we celebrate today.


1)Darby O’Connor

Darby O’Connor

Darby is a senior who loves to thrift, write music, and get coffee with friends. She always knew she wanted to go to college so she’s excited to graduate this winter with a marketing major. She didn’t have any assistance getting into college, but she persevered and reaped the rewards. Her advice to first-generation college students is, “There are so many scholarships out there for first-generation students, so take advantage of them! And don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many people out there who want to see you succeed – so reach out, build your network, and never stop!


2) Nick Barnes

Nick Barnes

Nick, a sophomore from Bend, Oregon, is a finance major who loves to hike and travel. He steps outside of his comfort zone to make connections and learn from others. His advice is: “Talk to everyone you can and be careful who you surround yourself with. To elaborate on those, you never know who you’re going to meet so say ‘hi’ to those you come across. They may one day be the key to your success. Along those lines, surround yourself with good counsel, people you can celebrate and cry with and who will hold you accountable or lift you up.”

3) Kayli Jones

Kaylie Jones with cap and gown posing on campus

Kayli, a senior from Murrieta, California, is studying communication and business. She loves reading and hiking with her dog, Oliver. She’s experienced essential growth as an individual during her time as a Bronco and says, “Being a first-generation student is definitely different from being a traditional college student. For many of us, it takes courage to step out of our comfort zone and do something completely different than what we are used to. It’s intimidating, but also empowering to know that we are making a difference.”

4) Carsen Cloud

Carsen Cloud

Carsen, a Boise local, loves fishing and skiing on top of creating awesome videos for the Student Communications and Marketing department. He’s a senior studying integrated media and strategic communications and business. It’s been tough to navigate everything on his own, but it helped him gain independence. His advice to first-gen students is, “Get involved as early as you can. I really wish that I would have gotten more involved my freshman year because I would’ve been able to have a lot more time with the people I ended up meeting.”

5) Stephanie Castro

Stephanie Castro

Stephanie is in her fifth year working toward an early childhood and elementary education degree. When she’s not studying, she can be found with her friends, swing dancing, or enjoying nature. She encourages her fellow first-gen students to stay focused even when life gets challenging because the hard work is worth it. “It has been exciting but also hard. I have come across a lot of challenges throughout my college years. A few challenges I have had are balancing school, work and home life as well as keeping my passion for my degree focus. Your most rewarding thing would be meeting so many amazing people and being able to learn and grow alongside them.”


5 ½) A word of advice from Marlene Tromp

Boise State President Marlene Tromp
Marlene Tromp, Boise State President, Idaho State Board press conference announcing the seventh president of Boise State University, John Kelly photo.

President Tromp, a first-gen student herself, has some words of wisdom for first-generation Broncos:

“You’ve got this. First-generation students play an important part in the intellectual life of our campus and in the future of our state and nation. You have the capacity to contribute new insights, bring fresh perspectives, and open doors others haven’t even seen.  Your unique, individual perspectives will help shape the world. Research shows that when you surmount the challenges that come with being first-gen, you build both intellectual and emotional strength to ascend to greater heights and contribute more. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next.”