First Generation Students at MSS 


First Generation students are those who are first in their family to attend college. These students bring many strengths to their college experience but may also face specific obstacles in their path to success. Fortunately, there are an increasing amount of resources available for first generation students. Since 2015 the Midwest Sociological Society (MSS) has provided conference programming, networking and resources on this important issue. In 2017, MSS authorized a task force to gather regional resources of first generation students. These resources are now available to download here.


How First Generation Students enjoyed the 2018 MSS Annual Meeting

WELCOME TABLE at the Welcome Reception

Thursday, 6-7pm (Nicollet Promenade)

The welcome reception will include a First Generation welcome table for First Generation students and faculty to meet and greet.



Friday & Saturday, 8:30am-6pm (Nicollet B/C)

Our booth this year will continue to pass out First Generation material (including regional resources) and MSS first generation nametag stickers. We will raffle off two signed copies of Make Your Home Among Strangers, by Jennine Capó Crucet, a novel that focuses on a First Generation student and daughter of Cuban immigrants and her adjustment to college as the first in her family.


Film Screening of First Generation    

Friday, 10:15am-11:45am (Nicollet D3)

Presider: Patricia Maddox, University of St. Thomas

Co-Sponsored by the First Generation Task Force & the Student Issues Committee   

Come watch the award-winning documentary First Generation, narrated by Blair Underwood, as it follows the lives of four high school students in the process of applying for college. Their struggles as first generation students are examined in-depth through their moving personal stories, as told through their interactions with educators, friends and family. Each story unfolds and illustrates the real and intersecting challenges of race/ethnicity, gender and class paired with being first in a family to attempt to enroll in college. This film also provides a larger structural context through featured interviews with educational experts and statistical information on first generation barriers to enrollment.  As many institutions are currently developing or strengthening their programs for first generation students, this film will serve as a window into some of the unseen hurdles facing these students. A discussion will follow the one-hour film as a way to stimulate ideas to better address the needs of this student population. This screening corresponds with a First Generation booth where we will be collecting video stories of First Generation students.


PANEL: Programs and Practices for First Generation Students     

Friday, 3-4:30pm  (Cedar Lake)

Presider/Discussant: Diane Jackson, Ferris State University 

Co-Sponsored by the First Generation Task Force  

Presentations on this panel will focus on various programs for first generation students and analysis on the effectiveness of these emerging programs. We will examine national programs, their modifications in local settings, and grassroots programs. In addition, the panel addresses what practices are used for outreach and recognition of these students on campus today. 

  • "Student Success Organizations and First-Generation Students" Whitney Ferrin-Rodriguez, College Possible;
  • "Breaking Barriers with First-Generation College Students" Nelisha Gray, Northern Illinois University;
  • "Community Colleges and First-Generation Students" Pernevlon Ellis, Kishwaukee College;
  • "First Generation Programs: Regional Comparison and Improving Student Awareness" Flavio Leanos-Macias, Northern Illinois University


SOCIAL GATHERING: Calling All First Generation Students Past and Present!           

Friday, 4:45-5:15pm (Nicollet Promenade)

Presider Diane Rodgers, Northern Illinois University  

Co-Sponsored by the MSS First Generation Task Force & Student Issues Committee                                                            

Based on feedback concerning First Generation student conference needs, we will gather at the MSS Ice Cream Social. First Generation students can meet faculty who also were first in their family to attend college. We will get to know each other, share stories and provide informal mentoring over a scoop of ice cream. Members of the First Generation Task Force will be available for your questions and input. The First Generation booth will also be holding its raffle drawing at this time. Join us for some First Gen Fun!