The First To Go program at Loyola Marymount University offers students valuable resources and opportunities for academic, professional, and personal growth. It is our mission to emphasize the unique cultural capital first-generation college students bring into the university in an attempt to create a community that will help our students thrive during their tenure at LMU. Through various on and off-campus events and programs, we seek to aid our students’ success in the following areas.
We believe a productive transition into the university is an essential component of academic success, and we are especially interested in first-year and transfer students. The First To Go Scholars Program provides an intensive academic experience for a select group of incoming freshman who take two classes together per semester—a course in the CORE and a 1-unit seminar that explores the first generation college experience. We also offer outreach programs for transfer, commuter, and graduate students in an effort to foster community and aid transition within specific student populations.
NETWORKING AND COMMUNITY BUILDING
One important component of First To Go is the mentoring program, where students are paired with LMU faculty and staff who are also the first in their families to attend college. These mentoring relationships can facilitate academic and professional development, as well as personal and spiritual growth. We also offer various networking events throughout the semester—from our annual welcome mixer to faculty meet-and-greets—designed to introduce students to campus resources and to build community within the program.
We believe that it is important to prepare our students to participate in the academic discourses that surround them. As part of the First To Go community, students have opportunities to present research, publish personal narratives, co-facilitate First To Go courses, and discuss their experiences with university administrators and department chairs. From providing public forums for expression to exposing hidden curriculum, we seek to familiarize students with the conventions of academic discourse that express the culture of the university, and we emphasize the connections between language, knowledge, and power in an effort to help our students develop strong voices that will prepare them for post-graduate work in research or graduate/professional school.
The First To Go program is designed to help students build cultural capital; however, we believe it is essential to challenge the stereotype that first-generation college students enter the university academically unprepared and ill-equipped to meet the demands of higher education. The various types of cultural capital these students possess—resilience, persistence, resourcefulness, and dedication, among many other valuable qualities—are powerful determinants of success at the university level. As an academic support program, we encourage students to draw from their supplies of cultural capital as we help ease transition, make visible useful resources, and encourage active participation in university culture.