First-Gen Snappers

Curt Oldfield, President of Spoon River College

My dad worked on the assembly line at Caterpillar and my mom was a teacher’s aide. They both encouraged me to attend college. My parents saw college as a way to invest in and improve myself. Also, I was fortunate to have a high school agriculture teacher that was a good role model for me. My high school ag teacher along with the SRC agriculture instructor gave me the confidence to proceed forward with college and become a teacher. My biggest challenge as a first-generation college student was that I didn’t know, what I didn’t know. As I was going through college, I asked questions, listened to the experiences of other students, and sought guidance from my SRC faculty to overcome my lack of knowledge and awareness of what to do and when to do it. I refer back to my experiences and the experiences of other first-generation college students and use those experiences to help SRC improve and make the lives of other first-generation college students easier. We always build on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, steadily improving so the next students have an even better college experience.

Krista Winters, Instructor

Being a nontraditional and first-generation student, I was very unsure of my ability to make it through school. With four children at home, and my husband working three and a half hours away (he only made it home on weekends), I had to balance school, child care, and work. There were moments where I felt like I should just give up, but I persevered. Being part of a TRIO program at Carl Sandburg College in my second year, they helped me prepare for my transition to a four-year college. The TRIO Advisor brought me to Western Illinois University to meet with a counselor and one of the faculty in the biology department. I was grateful for the help they gave me to start my journey at WIU. Having TRIO with me, made all the difference.

Thomas Vogel, Instructor

Education was very important in my home growing up. Four out of five of my brothers and sisters completed a college education, and two completed master's degrees. My biggest challenge I encountered as a first-generation student was money - money - money! I didn’t pay off my student loans until my 50 ’s. Being a first-generation college student, it has influenced my work in that, I believe for those that really want an education can make it happen. Determination is key!