Campus event celebrates first-generation students and highlights educational opportunities – UNK News



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UNK Marketing Director Kyle Means shares his story Wednesday at the annual First Generation Day celebration on campus.
WHAT MAKES UNK A FIRST GENERATION DESTINATION?
DISCOVER ON UNK.EDU/FIRSTGEN

KEARNEY – “From small beginnings come great opportunities.”

Kyle Means uses this quote to describe the spirit of first-generation students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he is chief marketing officer and co-chair of the first-generation leadership team.

“Maybe some of you feel like you have humble beginnings right now. Just know that there are opportunities here at UNK. There are opportunities here to achieve your dreams in your career and in your life. Be prepared to seek out those opportunities. Be prepared to use the resources that are here and know that our faculty and staff are here to help. We want to see you succeed and provide those great opportunities,” he said. he said at the fourth annual First Generation Day celebration on campus.

Means called UNK a “first-generation destination,” a place where about 4 in 10 students come from families where neither parent earned a four-year degree.

“That means we’re going to work really hard to make sure first-generation students have access to higher education,” he said. “And once they get here, we want them to perform to the best of their abilities and reach their potential. This is one of our big goals here at UNK.

Means shared her own first-generation success story at Wednesday’s event, detailing a journey that began in a single-parent home in Lincoln.

He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, on the advice of his mother, applied for a co-op position. This led to an opportunity with the video production team HuskerVision, where he met his wife Leslie.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Means landed his “dream job at the time,” working with the Houston Rockets and NBA players such as Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo. He also participated in the production of concerts at the arena.

“I met someone named Beyonce,” he told the crowd of UNK students, faculty and staff gathered in the Nebraskan Student Union food court.

“I’m sure she remembers me,” he added with a smile.

When his family moved back to Nebraska, Means worked in marketing and game operations for the Tri-City Storm hockey team before joining UNK in 2014. In addition to his bachelor’s degree, he holds a Master of Arts in Education from UNK.

“I think a lot about being a first-generation freshman and having this work-study application that I filled out, not even knowing what it was. But I fulfilled it and it turned out to be a truly life-changing opportunity,” Means said.

FIRST GENERATION DAY

The annual First-Gen Day event brings the campus community together to celebrate UNK’s first-generation students and the faculty and staff who contribute to their success. This coincides with the national celebration of first-generation colleges and the November 8 anniversary of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which created a series of initiatives to help low-income, first-generation and underprivileged students. -represented to obtain university degrees.

As part of the First Generation Week activities at UNK, the event included free ice cream, t-shirts and other merchandise, as well as a photo booth and featured speakers. Two awards were also presented by the student organization First Gen Lopers.

Laura Ibarra Arreguin, center, received the Trailblazer Award for Outstanding First Generation Student during Wednesday's First Generation Day celebration.
Laura Ibarra Arreguin, center, received the Trailblazer Award for Outstanding First Generation Student during Wednesday’s First Generation Day celebration.

PILOT PRIZE

Laura Ibarra Arreguin, an Elementary Education major with a major in English as a Second Language and a minor in Mathematics, received the Trailblazer Award for Outstanding First-Generation Student.

“As a child of immigrants, expectations have always been high for Laura. She began her college career at Garden City Community College before transferring to UNK in 2020. Laura is involved in various organizations, such as PRISM and the Hispanic Student Association. She plans to become a Latin educator after graduating from UNK because she believes it is essential to have educators who are like their students in grades K-12. Being a transfer student didn’t dampen Laura’s zeal for campus involvement. She often participates in events that enrich her experience as a first-generation student and as a member of the campus community,” her nomination said.

Biology professor Letty Reichart, center, received the Friend of First Gen award during Wednesday's First Generation Day celebration.
Biology professor Letty Reichart, center, received the Friend of First Gen award during Wednesday’s First Generation Day celebration.

FIRST GENERATION FRIEND AWARD

Biology Professor Letty Reichart received the Friend of First Gen Award given to a faculty or staff member who goes above and beyond to support first generation students.

The student candidate described her as someone “who always does whatever she can to help us”.

“Dr. Reichart cares about the students, provides proactive support by offering review sessions and model notes, and always comes to class energized with a smile on his face.

PHOTOS BY ERIKA PRITCHARD, UNK COMMUNICATIONS



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