USD Hosts 1st Gen Week Celebration

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Nov. 8 is National First Generation Student Day, something the University of South Dakota has made into a week long event.

First generation students make up 22% of the USD student population.

For USD freshman Amari Weston, being a first generation student is a big accomplishment.

"Not many people have degrees... so I'm doing it for my family, and younger tribal generations, so they can do what I'm doing," Weston said.

Weston is from the Yankton Sioux Tribe. She says being away from her family has been tough at times.

"It's mentally challenging for me, just to stay and keep going, motivating myself to keep doing the work," Weston said.

USD President Sheila Gestring understands the struggles that can come with being a first generation student, and says the university is committed to helping students like Amari succeed.

"Those students need a little bit more support when they get here because the transition from high school to collegiate academics is a difficult one," Gestring said.

Gestring says being prepared for students of all backgrounds is important.

"We have several offices that are more than willing to help students, whether that's tutoring assistance, someone to help them navigate the process, financial aid, we have lots of resources formally set up that way," Gestring said.

Weston says having a week dedicated to first generation students makes that transition easier.

"I think it's cool that the university promotes a week like that for us first gen students because it's about us. There are people here from different backgrounds, not everyone is the same, and we get to tell our stories," Weston said.

The week of events at USD featured professional speakers, training courses, and a celebration dinner.