Inaugural summit at Elon examines issues facing first-generation college students
The NC Emerge 1G Summit was hosted and led by Elon's Examining Disparities in Educational Access Living Learning Community and drew attendees from students around the state.
Elon hosted the first NC Emerge 1G Summit on Jan. 20 to examine the issues that first-generation students — those who have not had a parent complete a four-year degree — face during their time pursuing a college education.
The conference was designed and led by students in the Examining Disparities in Educational Access Living Learning Community with the guidance of their advisor Esther Gonzalez Freeman, Colonnades Community Director Cristina Vega, and Colonnades Faculty Director Terry Tomasek. The event was open to any student attending a North Carolina college or university, with the summit attracting attendees from Elon, UNC-Chapel Hill, Salem College, UNC-Greensboro, High Point University, UNC-Charlotte and N.C. A&T State University.
“This event was important because it gave first-generation students the opportunity to connect with individuals who have similar stories from across colleges and universities across North Carolina,” said Sydney Simmons ’20, who currently serves as the resident adviser for the EDEA LLC. “It also provided an opportunity to network with successful first-generation graduates which ultimately allows us to see what life after college can entail.”
The summit featured six talks given by N.C. leaders who are first-generation college graduates and allowed time for question-and-answer sessions and networking. The speakers shared their personal journeys as first-generation college graduates and provided tips, encouragement, and support for the attendees.
“There will always be another party. Another girl. Another guy. You have to ask yourself, 'why am I here?,'” challenged Trinity Manning, CEO of OnceLogix, LLC. Manning, a first-generation graduate of Wake Forest, was recently featured in Forbes magazine and discussed his journey from growing up not understanding he was poor to turning down a $3 million dollar job offer early in his career.
Yamile McBride, now chief operating officer of McBride Somos Consulting and founder of Latinas Finas DLC and a graduate of Salem College, encouraged students with her story of overcoming failure, struggles, and owning her skin. “Vulnerability is a must! You need to take the bad things, the trauma, the failures, and use them to fertilize your growth. Composting is made up of garbage, but I haven’t found anything that will better serve the growth of my garden. We need to leverage the garbage in our lives to move to the next level. Life is happening for us, not to us.”
Students left the event with a list of lessons learned and an action plan designed to apply these lessons to their lives right now.
"I came to this event today with the intention of supporting this campus and engaging in necessary dialogue,” Karly Shaubach ’19 said. “I was blown away by all of the things that I learned that I can now put into action in my own life. Today I learned that it's one thing to be confident in yourself, but it's another thing entirely to let that confidence shine out to others around you. That's what changes the world. I need to remind myself of that, and I hope I can empower others to do the same."
Featured Speakers included:
- Trinity Manning: CEO and co-founder of OnceLogix, LLC
- Yamile McBride: Chief operating officer of McBride Somos Consulting and founder of Latinas Finas DLC
- Luis Lobo: Executive vice president at BB&T Corp.
- Jennifer Bringle: Features editor for Casual Living
- Shalisha Morgan: CEO of Geek in Heels
- Tracy Smith: Attorney at Womble Bond Dickinson
The Examining Disparities in Educational Access LLC is supported by the Center for Access and Success, home to The Village Project, Elon Academy, Collegiate Start, and the Odyssey Program.