Center, offers support and advocacy for first-generation Radford University students, which make up about 30 percent of the undergraduate student population.
The center opened its doors at the beginning of the fall 2021 semester.
“It’s not just about supporting,” said center director Jessica Twiest. “It’s also about advocating for our first-generation students, faculty, and staff and celebrating the fact that these folks are also on campus.”
First-generation college students — the first people in their immediate families to pursue higher education — often must navigate the college education process on their own. The center was designed to cater to the unique set of challenges that these Highlanders face.
Twiest describes the center as a space that provides a supportive community among students that aligns with Radford University’s pursuit for student-centered facilities. It is a place where students can study, use computers, hang out with like-minded individuals, take advantage of resources, and expand their knowledge.
The center also spotlights its work with special events. In celebration of National First-Generation Student Day, the center hosted a series of events, including a first-generation student reception, a photo booth, and T-shirt and bookstore gift-card giveaways.
In October, the center hosted a Fall Palooza celebration designed by junior business marketing major Lydia Burke, a work-study student at the center. The event, open to all students, and featuring fall-themed crafts and food, was an example of how the center brings student visions to life and promotes academic well-being.
“Honestly working in the Center for Opportunity and Social Mobility has really helped me within my major,” Burke said. “I have gotten experience in marketing, leadership, and making connections with the people who come in here.”
With its continuous commitment to pushing students forward, the center will also begin hosting workshops on test anxiety, note-taking skills, financial aid, and scholarships to ensure knowledge gaps among first-generation students are filled.
“The center is just the place for folks to be,” said Twiest. “You are welcomed here, and you are valued here.”