As a first-generation student herself, junior psychology major Cassidy Keilholtz knows a thing or two about the struggles of being the first in your family to pursue a four-year degree. As president of the First-Generation Student Alliance (FGSA) club at Shippensburg University, Keilholtz is passionate about helping fellow first-generation students successfully navigate the college experience.
As mentioned, first-generation students are students whose parents or guardian did not receive a four-year degree. Being the first to tackle college without a mentor who has direct experience with things like applying for FAFSA, living on campus or managing college classes can be scary. The FGSA wants to be there for those who need it.
The main goal of the FGSA is to provide a safe-space for first-generation students as well as inform and educate students on all things college-life. With help from an executive board, Keilholtz plans meetings, hosts events and fosters a supportive environment for FGSA members.
“My goal and my role is to make sure everyone feels welcomed and to know that they can come to me for anything,” Keilholtz said.
The FGSA holds many informational events as well as fun, team-bonding events throughout a semester. Some recent informational events included a seminar on how to manage relationship conflict, a crash course on study skills, and a presentation from the Financial Aid Office.
“Our biggest thing as a first-generation student is handling finances,” Keilholtz said. The presentation included information on FAFSA and how to receive more financial aid.
The FGSA also held a tie-dying event, a s’mores event and many other social gatherings to promote connections, including their end of the semester celebration at University Grille on Thursday. The dinner was “a way to bond and thank everybody for all their hard work that they’ve done,” Keilholtz said.
The FGSA is currently looking for new members for the upcoming academic year.
“You can get involved by joining us on campus group, following us on social media and looking at flyers we post around campus,” she said. The FGSA Office is located in CUB 224 and any students who are interested in FGSA are encouraged to stop by.
“FGSA has had a huge impact on my college experience,” Keilholtz said. “Being a first-generation student is an identity that I resonate with immensely because it was not an easy path coming to college.”
Many students at SU are considered first-generation and Keilholtz encourages other first-generation students to wear the badge proudly.
“We are present with the opportunity to get a higher-education that a lot of people, including our parents, might not have had.”
If you are interested in joining FGSA, reach out to Cassidy Keilholtz at email@example.com, follow the FGSA Instagram @ship_fgsa or stop by the office in CUB 224.