The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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LAUNCH celebrates first-generation college students

National+First-Generation+College+Student+Celebration
Photo by Graphic by Jesse Everett
National First-Generation College Student Celebration

53 years ago today, the 1965 Higher Education Act was signed, reducing financial barriers and opening door for many people who would have otherwise been unable to attend college.
Today, Texas A&M LAUNCH: Learning Communities professionals and peer mentors are celebrating the legislation’s anniversary by encouraging first-generation college students to add their picture to the ‘We Are the First Gen Aggies Poster’ in the Memorial Student Center. The completed poster will be on display on the first floor of Sterling C. Evans library until Thanksgiving Break. According to LAUNCH, about 20 percent of Texas A&M undergraduates are first-generation college students.
Ignite is a LAUNCH Learning Community that serves first-generation college students during their freshman year. Ignite Program Coordinator Kelsey Hirsch said the program provides undergraduate mentors, weekly seminar classes and social events.
“It gives them a sense of community when they get to College Station, but it also gives them unlimited resources for when they are here to help them stay here,” Hirsch said. “We go over anything from how to speak with professors, how to make appointments on campus and learning campus culture.”
The Century Scholars Program is also a LAUNCH Learning Community and supports underrepresented students from Texas high schools for four years. CSP Program Coordinator Shaton Harris was the first in her family to attend college, moving from Pasadena, California to go to Sam Houston State University. Harris now encourages students in CSP to ask faculty and staff questions through emails and during office hours.
“I was a young pioneer for my family in terms of me going out there and exploring college life, but I didn’t know how to steer to get to that place,” Harris said. “It was just so difficult for me, and I didn’t want to tell my family that I was messing up because I didn’t want to disappoint them. It’s a lot of pressure on you to do well.”
The Regents’ Scholars Program is a scholarship and an organization designed to help first-generation college students succeed in their academic pursuits. Cheyenne Jassen, marketing junior and public relations coordinator of the Regents’ Scholars Organization Executive Committee, grew up in Runge, Texas and graduated high school in a class of 12 people. Her parents work in the agricultural industry and did not attend college.
“[My parents] really wanted me to do better for myself, [so college] was something that was pushed from the time that I was little,” Janssen said. “As I grew older, I realized that it was definitely something that I wanted to pursue, and I felt that Texas A&M was probably the best place for me to do that.”
Although Janssen’s parents wanted her to major in agribusiness, she decided to major in general business instead.
“I just wanted something different,” Janssen said. “I decided to go into marketing because I feel like it allows me to express myself and my personality a little bit more than some of the other fields that you can go into. I know eventually I will end up back helping my parents with their business, but right after college, I would like to find a company that aligns with my personal morals and beliefs and we just work together well.”
Janssen didn’t have a high school counselor to help her answer questions about college and the application process, so she relied on teachers and older friends. According to Janssen, the Regents’ Scholars Program helped her adjust to college once she got in, and she met both of her current roommates through the program.
“You’ll never think that you can make it in college or you don’t think that you’ll be able to get here and figure out what’s going on, and I promise you, you can,” Janssen said. “You just have to surround yourself with people who are either in a similar situation as you, or who have already gone through that situation, and you can take from their experiences and learn from them.”

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