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Cardinal First participants speak to benefits for first-generation college students
Students like Samantha Sowa ’21—featured in the NPR piece—recall first coming to campus and feeling overwhelmed. She shared how being the first in her family to pursue a bachelor’s degree is daunting and without programs like North Central’s Cardinal First, she wouldn’t know how to navigate her college experience.
Cardinal First director Julie Carballo spoke to NPR about the importance of the program providing North Central students with “insider knowledge” to cultivate a sense of belonging, which is a common desire among first-generation (first-gen) students.
“Our programming gives our first-gen students a place to go when they have a question,” Carballo said. “We created a list of everyone on our campus who was a first-generation college student. It provides a lot of relief and inspiration—to first-gen students and their parents—helping motivate them to network within their community.”
Carballo commonly asks first-generation faculty and staff members to attend and share their stories during Cardinal First events. Donnavieve Smith, associate professor of marketing at North Central, is a frequent visitor. She shared her story with NPR, specifically addressing how first-generation students can connect with each other through sharing their background and celebrating their heritage as a point of pride.
You can read or listen to the whole feature at NPR.org.
For more information about North Central College’s Cardinal First program visit the program's web page.