The cold fall weather did not stop members of First-Generation Redbirds (FGR) from spreading positivity on Schroeder Plaza.
In celebration of First-Generation Student Week, members of the new registered student organization (RSO) spent the afternoon of November 5 handing out bracelets with positive messages to their fellow students. Written on each bracelet were positive affirmations like, “Anything is possible.”
With the end of the semester just weeks away, FGR was looking to diminish fellow students’ stress levels just as group project deadlines and finals week are approaching.
“Positive affirmations like, ‘Don’t give up,’ and, ‘Hang on,’ are often what first-generation students are told. This is an opportunity for first-generations students to communicate these positive affirmations to the campus community,” said Tamekia Bailey, FGR faculty advisor and Illinois State’s coordinator of undergraduate studies and student services for the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences.
Community is what FGR values the most. Sophomore Nakiya Simpson, a first-time FGR executive board member and a first-generation college student, is ready to grow that sense of community for everyone on campus.
“Building a community is very important. There are some odds that first-generation students face. Hopefully, with our organization, people will realize that first-generation students are more than the obstacles we face,” Simpson said.
FGR started this semester as a way to support first-generation students and implement a sense of community around campus. Handing out bracelets was just one of the ways FGR celebrated these students all this week in the run-up to the national First-Generation College Celebration, November 8. Illinois State organizations like TRIO were spending November 7 and 8 celebrating with special events like the 1st Generation Gala Kickoff.
Serving alongside FGR members on November 5 was 2019 Homecoming King Kendall Jordan. As a first-generation student, Jordan proudly represented the second all African American king and queen pair in the University’s history by spreading positivity as he handed out bracelets.
“Thanksgiving is coming up. Then we only have two weeks after Thanksgiving break. I want to give people that motivation to strive for greatness,” said Jordan, a senior recreation management major.
FGR hopes that as students wear these bracelets, they can be constantly reminded to stay motivated throughout the semester each time they look down at their wrists.
“Signs and sheets of paper can be easily taken down. But with bracelets, students can wear them on their wrists and become inspired to overcome whatever obstacles they may encounter,” Bailey said.
FGR members are excited for what the future holds for their organization. Moving forward, the organization aspires to recruit more members who are first-generation students as well as those who are supporters of first-generation students.
“This organization helps students create their own narrative of who first-generation students are and what first-generation students need. My hope is that this organization feels like a home away from home for those who are a part of it,” Bailey said.