Yuma, Arizona - Makaylla Reveles had a difficult time deciding where to go to college. She knew she wanted to be a teacher, but didn’t know where to start. The first person in her family to pursue higher education, she felt overwhelmed and alone trying to figure out which college would be the best fit. That was until her senior year of high school when her guidance counselor told her about Arizona Western College.
“What I hope for the most is by going to college I will inspire my younger brothers to go to college,” said Reveles. “I hope that they know that they can follow in my footsteps, that they can make something of themselves. They are not stuck in a box, they need to break out of it and know they can further their education after high school and I will be there, helping them and guiding them, every step of the way.”
About 66% of AWC’s student population is made up of first-generation college goers, which is the largest percentage of any other community college in Arizona and one of the highest percentages of community colleges in the U.S.
“We take great pride in having such a high percentage of first-generation students at AWC and we want to celebrate the fact that we are establishing a college-going culture in Yuma La Paz counties,” said AWC President Dr. Daniel Corr, also a first-generation college student.
“That said, we know first-generation students need additional support and guidance, because that’s not coming from parents and siblings who have preceded them to college. AWC embraces this challenge to make sure these students have all the resources they need as they become the first in their family to earn a credential.”
In conjunction with other institutions around the country, AWC will be holding a First-Generation College Student Celebration on Wednesday, Nov. 8, on the 52nd anniversary of the Higher Education Act. The community is invited to attend this event, especially any current or potential first-generation students.
The celebration will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the grassy area NE of the 3C building on AWC’s main campus, 2020 S. Ave. 8E. The program will begin with a welcome by Director of TRIO Programs Michelle Thomas and Dean of Students Mary Kay Harton, followed by stories from first-generation students, faculty, and staff. A proclamation will also be given by Dr. Corr declaring Nov. 8 to be First-Generation College Student Day at AWC.
Additionally, there will be an information fair running for the duration of the event providing resources and support services available for first-generation students. Attendees who are first-generation students will be encouraged to sign the Wall of Expression as a form of encouragement and solidarity.
Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to wear their "I am First Gen" shirts if they have one. A limited number of shirts will be available at the event.