The university’s “FIRST” program will host their second annual finals week celebration.
FIRST is a first-generation student success program, said Levi Harrel, assistant director of student development.
“It is a student organization designed to help those students who are the first generation in their family to attend college,” Harrel said. “They are really those trailblazers in their families, and this is a really new experience for them and their families.”
Students who say on their OCU applications that they are first generation college students are automatically placed in the program.
“I feel like this is a great program because it makes sure that these students don’t feel lost or out of place,” said Sarah Lubaroff, dance freshman. “And it gives them the information and guidance that a parent would give them.”
FIRST is now in their second full academic year. The program has seen increases in turnout and interest and is hoping for that to continue to grow, Harrel said.
“Our focus is that first year, however, we understand that we want to be here for you all four years,” Harell said. “Part of that is because what research tells us is that students’ engagement, not only those first six weeks, but that first academic year, is one of the highest indicators of success for college, period,” Harrel said.
Students are assigned a mentor during their first year and are invited to educational and social events throughout their first year at OCU.
Their events for the year include a Stars Week reception, a welcome event where mentors can meet their mentees, resume workshops, and a finals week celebration.
The finals week celebration for FIRST students will be Apr. 25 from 6-7 p.m. in the lobby of Walker Hall.
“We want to say ‘congratulations, you made it, we are here for you, have a wonderful summer, and we hope you come help us welcome new students in the Fall,’” Harrel said.
The celebration will include Root Beer and Coke floats.
“One thing that we know is that research tells us that for Oklahoma City University students who identify as first generation students, by the time that four-year graduation rate rolls around, we’ve lost over half of those students at this institution,” Harrel said. “So, ‘FIRST’ is all about connecting those students back to Oklahoma City University, showing them that there are people here for them who want to help them navigate this situation that’s a bit different for them than perhaps their peers and lead them to success. And we get to have a lot of fun while we do it.”