Eastern Oregon University > Academics > Anything is possible

Anything is possible

First-generation students discover support, connection amid pandemic

Nov. 23, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – First-generation college student Nereida Navarro, who’s studying nursing at Eastern Oregon University through OHSU, knows the end of fall term offers an opportunity to reflect on her education.  

Thirty-five percent of EOU’s student body is made up of first-generation, rural or low-income students. Part of EOU’s mission is to ensure each student has access to success in higher education. First-generation students are defined as students who are the first in their immediate family to attend college. With a student-to-professor ratio of 17:1, EOU nurtures meaningful mentorships and relationships that support  students who need extra attention or help. 

Coming from a large family, Navarro had some reservations about attending college. She was drawn to EOU’s small size that allowed her to build relationships with professors and advisors. Connecting with faculty on campus led Navarro to build a second family at EOU.

“I was able to ask questions around campus and I got really close to the professors who are advocating for their students,” she said. 

Throughout her education, Navarro has used many of the services available to EOU students, including the Writing Center and Math Lab. More recently, she served as a WOW leader and Spanish tutor, bringing her experience with tutoring full circle. She also got to travel and gain nursing experience.  

“I want to take care of people and make a difference,” Navarro said. “I actually went to Belize and helped doctors hold free clinics for residents there who weren’t able to go to the main areas where the hospitals are and it was very heartwarming.”  

Through connections and support systems built at the university, students like Navarro are able to succeed in their post-secondary education. 

Justin Chin, director of EOU Career Services, is also a first-generation college student. Chin works closely with many first-generation students at EOU, helping them find career opportunities to make their post-college dreams a reality. Recalling his college experience, he remembers how important it is for first-generation students to connect with peers and mentors in the university community. He met frequently with advisors during his college career. 

Chin said EOU provides opportunities for students to connect with professors due to small class sizes. Many first-generation students need help with scheduling and campus guidance, which they find in first-year orientation courses that also facilitate lasting relationships with faculty. 

Chin said he is a strong believer that a college education has the power to change a person’s life. 

“Anything is possible and part of making ‘anything is possible a reality’ is not being afraid to ask questions,” Chin said. “Find that safe passageway to champions who can help and empower you to amplify your concerns or your needs.”

For more information about EOU’s student resources, visit eou.edu/students

By PR Intern Emily Andrews