Aarionna, College Connection Class of 2015 and a graduate of Philadelphia High School for Girls, is gaining leadership experience and building new skills while helping others who, like herself, are first-generation college students at Bryn Mawr. An English major nearing the end of her freshman year, Aarionna has served as the treasurer for First Go-ers, Bryn Mawr’s club for first-generation students, since the beginning of the Fall 2015 semester. We asked Aarionna to share some insights about her first year with First Go-ers:
What is First-Goers?
First Go-ers is a new club for first-generation college students at Bryn Mawr. It was founded last year, and went into effect this past fall. Our mission is to raise awareness about the special needs and concerns of this population of students who make up a small fraction of Bryn Mawr’s overall student body. Because many first-generation students haven’t had the same advantages as their peers who have at least one parent with a 4-year degree, First Go-ers aims to ensure that first-generation students are as equipped to thrive as any other Bryn Mawr student.
How did you get involved with First-Goers?
The club reached out to me a couple of weeks before I arrived on campus. Bryn Mawr identifies incoming first-generation students by the information we provide about our parents in the Common Application.
What is your role in First-Goers and what are your primary responsibilities?
I’m the treasurer, so I keep track of the club’s finances when we plan events. When planning an event, we often pay for things out of pocket and then submit paperwork to be reimbursed from our group funding. I’m in charge of processing the reimbursements by filling out an online form and submitting it along with the receipt. Typically, we are reimbursed within a week. If the money we used is not recorded properly or if the correct statements are not sent in on time, we will not be reimbursed. It’s my responsibility to keep track of our budget and ensure that all deadlines are met.
Can you tell us about some of First Go-ers’ events?
Our first event was hosted during Bryn Mawr’s Community Day of Learning. First Go-ers held an interactive workshop about the experiences of first-generation students at Bryn Mawr. We shared statistics that included facts about the percentage of first-generation students currently receiving need-based financial aid, including Pell Grants, PHEAA Grants, and Federal Work-Study.
On Thursday, April 28th, we hosted an end-of-the-year luncheon for first-generation students and faculty. Our goal was for the students to have the opportunity to interact with adults and other students that have been through some of the challenges that we are currently experiencing. We wanted first-generation students to know that they aren’t alone and that a college education can open doors to many new experiences.
What trait do you think is most valuable in your role as treasurer?
I think the traits most valuable in my role are patience and attention to detail. By serving as the treasurer for First Go-ers, I’ve learned that there’s a lot going on behind the scenes with social events, whether it’s a closed club meeting or an event with an invitation to the entire campus. You learn to think differently about budgeting when the funds in question don’t belong to only you, but the entire group. Attention to detail is key, because as a brand new club we have to be very strict with our limited budget. Hopefully, as First Go-ers continues to grow and be successful, we’ll have a larger budget to work with, but for the time being we can’t afford even a tiny mistake. Patience is also very important, because it often takes a lot of trial and error to find creative and resourceful ways to stay within our budget. For example, if we’re ordering food for an event, I’ll often have to call to get price quotes from several businesses before finding one that can feed everyone and not go overbudget.
What advice would you give to a Philadelphia Futures collegian who is considering taking on a leadership role at their school?
My advice is simply go for it! Even if you think you can’t do it the longer you stay in your role the more your confidence will build. Believe in yourself! Everyone is nervous on some level when a new opportunity presents itself, but it’s up to you to dive in and make the most of it!
If you’re a Philadelphia Futures Collegian who’d like to share one of your most interesting college experiences, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.