five students standing on the Quad

The Board of the First-Gen Redbirds RSO.

A new registered student organization (RSO) on Illinois State University’s campus, First-Gen Redbirds, is providing a community for students who identify as the first in their family to attend college. The organization aims to change the negative narratives surrounding first-generation college students and to highlight the strength, support, and value that such students bring to college campuses.

“As a first-generation student, you are the first, and you have little-to-no idea how college systems work,” said First-Gen Redbirds President Tabitha Manning. A first generation student from Lansing, Illinois, Manning noted she joined to be a resource for fellow students. “I want to prevent them from feeling like they have no place here and they are alone on this journey,” she said.

There are a number of first-generation students at Illinois State, and this program along with others in the campus community work to retain students and increase first generation students’ chances of graduating.

“This RSO is creating a peer-to-peer support group that provides support for students whose social capital is often unrecognized by the university,” said Tamekia Bailey, the faculty advisor for the organization. “We are hoping that this group can help to connect first-gen students with others who share that bond and in turn they can help recognize and enhance their social capital in order to be successful during their time at Illinois State.”

The organization is open to any and all students, with a focus on first-generation students to provide support and a community to make them feel at home at Illinois State. The First-Gen Redbirds will also provide students with the tools necessary to be successful and graduate from college.

For more information about this organization, contact