Edmonds Community College and Central Washington University-Lynnwood joined together earlier this month to celebrate their inaugural First-Generation College Student Week.
“This remarkable week celebrated the accomplishments of our first-generation students, staff, and faculty at Edmonds CC and CWU-Lynnwood and shed light on their abilities and tenacity while fostering an environment of camaraderie and support throughout the community,” said Dana Parker, Edmonds CC TRIO assistant director and First-Generation College Student Week committee chair.
The week kicked off with Edmonds CC President Dr. Amit Singh and CWU-Lynnwood Regional Director Shane Reeder signing a declaration dedicating the first week of November each year as First-Generation College Student Week.
The declaration acknowledges students who are the first members of their immediate family to embark on a college journey and the path to being a college graduate. Edmonds CC and CWU-Lynnwood will also celebrate and support the presence, experiences, and success their first-generation college students, faculty and staff.
During the kickoff event, attendees heard the stories of first-generation student speakers, including CWU-Lynnwood student and Edmonds CC alumni Anthony Esposo and Edmonds CC student Jasmine Warner Banks.
Edmonds CC first-generation student Matondo Hermione Mbuku Tulu, 22, was a member of the First-Generation College Student Week committee and worked diligently to make the event a success.
Mbuku Tulu moved to the U.S. in 2011 with her family from the Democratic Republic of Congo. As the oldest of seven siblings and the first in her family to go to college, she feels the pressure to be successful and set a good example for her younger siblings.
“You have to be determined,” Mbuku Tulu said, “to succeed academically and also in understanding a new culture.” She explained that cultural differences can impact students before they even get to campus or into a classroom.
As the first in her family to go to college, it was difficult for Mbuku Tulu to complete school forms, such as financial aid forms like the FAFSA, without her parents’ guidance and experience with the process.
In addition to learning about cultural differences, learning English was another challenge Mbuku Tulu faced. She learned English while attending Everett High School and then Cascade High School by volunteering for community service projects as a way to serve and also engage in conversation with others. Mbuku Tulu was consistently on the honor roll during high school and was accepted into four out-of-state universities upon graduation.
However, Mbuku Tulu’s family decided it would be best for her to stay closer to home and pursue her studies at Edmonds CC. She is now working toward an associate’s degree in biology with hopes of transfering to a four-year university.
Her advice (and personal motto) to other first-generation college students: Be F.A.T. – faithful, available, and teachable. As a first-generation student, don’t be afraid of what you face in life and school. Whatever it throws your way, be willing to learn.
— Article courtesy Edmonds Community College