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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Legacy Scholars holds first-gen student conference

Courtesy of Randi Hamm
Attendees at the conference.

Legacy Scholars, an organization dedicated to providing first-generation students with resources and opportunities, held its first first-generation student conference on Friday.

Conferences supporting first generation students have been popular at other universities and feature speakers and opportunities specific to the needs of first generation students.

A variety of speakers discussed finance, resilience, communication and other related topics.

First Generation Programs manager Randi Hamm said she decided to hold the event after seeing another university hold a similar conference. She said she decided on the speakers based on her experience learning first-generation students’ needs.

“Resiliency was something that’s really important to me,” Hamm said. “First-gen students just naturally have so much resilience but really have to tap into that.”

Gina Simpson, an instructor of management for the Culverhouse College of Business, spoke to the students about resiliency and shared her personal story as a first-generation student turned millionaire entrepreneur.

“I came here as a first-gen student whose parents never graduated high school,” Simpson said. “When I graduated, I was a millionaire.”

In 2000, Simpson co-founded Gilco Contracting, a utility construction company. Her profile on the University’s website says that she is currently the president of Regina Holdings LLC, and Soluna Strategies.

“I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as luck. There’s preparation meets opportunity,” Simpson said.

Blake Wright, a freshman majoring in marketing and hospitality, said he attended to hear from faculty members who were also first-generation students. Wright said he enjoyed hearing from Simpson.

“Her story was great,” Wright said. “Resilience is a very common theme with first-generation students, and hearing her advice was really inspiring.”

Briana Lorissaint, a junior majoring in accounting and member of Legacy Scholars, attended to interact with other first-generation students.

“It’s important as first-generation students that we get all of the resources we lack from colleges or our parents not being able to attend college,” Lorissaint said.

She also said she enjoyed hearing from Jennifer Humber, who discussed assertive communication.

Humber, an assistant professor in the Department of Consumer Sciences, discussed the importance of self-advocacy and assertiveness in achieving success.

“Assertiveness is a type of power that we can gain from ourselves and show that our voice is extremely powerful,” Humber said. “Sometimes as first-generation students, we have to remind ourselves that we are really important.”

Humber discussed ways to advocate for oneself and practiced scenarios with those in attendance.

“There is so much power in your story and the talents and skills that you have,” Humber said. “You’re always doing a disservice to others if you don’t show them.”

The conference also featured a panel of first-generation student speakers and a yoga session.

Hamm said she hopes to see more faculty and staff get involved in the future.

“UA is very supportive of everything we’ve done in First Generation Programs, and that continued support goes so far,” Hamm said.

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