All students face challenges when they begin higher education. A considerable body of research explores the added challenges that first-generation students encounter, including developing a sense of belonging. But what about first-generation students who have the added challenge of being first-generation in a new culture as well? This webinar’s Presenters refer to these students as double-dose first-gen students, and as members of this population themselves, they have experienced first-hand many of the challenges and obstacles they will discuss. In this NACADA First Generation College Student Advising Community-sponsored event, the Presenters will begin with a brief explanation of the concept of double-dose first-gen students, and then explore the cultural challenges that arise as these students navigate higher education. They will frame this exploration through Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Theory, taking a closer look at some specific differences between the U.S. national culture and other national cultures (such as Pakistan, China, Kenya, Mexico, Philippines, and India) that are often the place of origin of double-dose first-gen American students. They will then review select advising approaches through this cultural lens to determine the pros and cons of each approach as it relates to the double-dose first-gen population, considering ways to overcome the potential downfalls to ensure that advisors and students are able to work collaboratively to better ensure students’ sense of belonging, engagement, and success in higher education.
Academic Advising Core Competencies that will be addressed in this presentation include:
C3 – Understanding of theory relevant to academic advising
C4 – Understanding of academic advising approaches and strategies
C6 – Understanding of how equitable and inclusive environments are created and maintained
I5 – Knowledge of the characteristics, needs, and experiences of major and emerging student populations
R2 – Ability to create rapport and build academic advising relationships
R3 – Ability to communicate in an inclusive and respectful manner
Tara Connolly, Academic Advisor / International Student Advising Coordinator, Truckee Meadows Community College
Tara Connolly is a first-generation American who became the first in her family to earn a Bachelor’s degree in General Studies with a minor in English writing and then a Master of Arts in Education Leadership. Tara began her career in higher education as a peer advisor at TMCC in 2003 while working on prerequisites for nursing school. She enjoyed the process of working with fellow college students so much that her educational goals changed to prepare her to become a primary-role Academic Advisor. After completing her Associate of Arts at TMCC, Tara went on to graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2008 with a Bachelor of General Studies and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership in 2010. As an Academic Advisor, Tara tries to create a welcoming and encouraging environment for students to explore and pursue their educational, career, and life goals. She meets with students one-on-one and in group settings to explain college and degree requirements and to help students develop a plan to meet their individual goals. Tara is also the International Student Advising Coordinator, working with TMCC’s international student population from recruitment through to graduation and transfer and supervising the wonderful international student peer mentors. In her spare time, Tara enjoys running, long hikes with her dogs, yoga and meditation, going back to grad school again, and exploring local coffee houses and restaurants with her international students.
Sione Lavaka, Pre-Professional Academic Advisor, Truckee Meadows Community College
Sione Lavaka is a Double Dose First-Generation College Student, a First-Generation College Student, and First-Generation (Tongan) American, who received his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2013. His passion for working with students stems from being a part of and later working as a mentor for the Dean’s Future Scholars Program (DFS), a college prep program focused on working with and helping First-Generation College Students reach their educational goals. After completing his Bachelor’s degree, he realized the importance of higher education and wanted to continue helping all students reach their educational goals. He is currently working as a Pre-Professional Academic Advisor at Truckee Meadows Community College where he continues to help traditional and non-traditional students in any way that he can. He is also a graduate student at the University of Nevada, where he is pursuing a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership. Sione’s other passions include binge eating and watching Netflix for unhealthy periods of time.
Tara and Sione’s highly-rated presentation on this topic at the 2016 NACADA Annual Conference was described as “amazing,” with “a lot of heart,” and was recommended for the webinar setting. One attendee said it “gave me confidence in getting to know students and asking about their culture” and another “loved the way you thoughtfully weaved your personal stories into the theoretical frameworks. It reveals applicability.”