Buckeyes First offers guidance to first-generation college students

The Lantern
Buckeyes First was created to provide a year-around resource for first generation students to access at any time. Credit: Courtesy of Alexandria Collins

As a first-generation student, Dalina Phomphengchane said she experienced imposter syndrome walking on campus because no one in her family attended college.

Buckeyes First is tackling just that feeling of imposter syndrome by advocating for first-generation students and serving as a resource for others at Ohio State.

“We wanted to create a student org that supported students all throughout the semester, all throughout their college experience, so that they feel supported and not just supported at the beginning of the semester,” Phomphengchane, a fourth-year in strategic communication and founder and president of the organization, said.

Phomphengchane said Buckeyes First expanded on the university’s offerings for first-generation students, which included the opportunity to move in early and participate in college workshops.

Ruth Zheng, a fourth-year in environment, economy, development and sustainability and vice president of the organization, said Buckeyes First provides a sense of community while helping students with professional development.

“We offer career development and workshops as well to help students get ready for the workforce and different study workshops as well,” Zheng said. “Our meetings range from socials, game nights, mental health meetings, yoga, vision boards, painting.”

Zheng said Buckeyes First offers leadership and volunteering opportunities to those who have little to no previous work experience. Phomphengchane said the organization also teaches first-generation college students about the university experience and how to apply for financial aid.

“We have a workshop on how to fill that out correctly so that students are able to get the proper amount of financial aid and know when to not take loans and when to take loans and how to pay them back,” Phomphengchane said.

Zheng said as a first-generation Asian American student, her role in Buckeyes First has helped her grow as a leader and a strong advocate.

“It’s help me grow in my knowledge of different experiences of other students, which helps me advocate for their needs as well,” Zheng said.

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