MCC #FirstGen

Most Mohave Community College students are first generation college students – #FirstGen.  Many of the MCC Faculty and Staff were also #FirstGen college students and understand the challenges, fears and exhilaration associated with being the first in a family to attend college.  

Check out the #FirstGen stories posted here and feel free to contact MCC employees for advice.  We also encourage you to reach out if you need assistance, our Student Success Center is staffed with people who want to help you. Share your #FirstGen story with us by filling out this easy form and your story may be posted right here on this page.  Please share on social media too by using #IamFirstGen or simply #FirstGen and tagging us with @MohaveCC, and on Snapchat we are @MohaveC.


Lisa Downey
Not only was I a #FirstGen student, but I went to college after being in the workforce for 15 years, a single parent to 3 children with 1 being disabled. I had to work 2-3 part time jobs, one was work study, while attending school to make ends meet. My parents helped a lot although sometimes they were more hindrance. They did not see a degree as needed because their generation did not necessarily need it. In the end, they were more proud of my accomplishment than I. MCC required a class for people receiving a specific type of financial assistance that helped me become a successful student. It taught things such as what is “a round toit,” budgeting, time management among other things. And then there were conversations with my financial aid advisor were we discussed life issues with my children and how to solve those problems. — Lisa Downey, MCC Financial Aid Manager and #FirstGen
Heather Patenaude
I was fortunate that family conversation was about “when” I went to college instead of “if” I went. A family friend helped us understand financial aid, building class schedules, and registering. I didn’t know what a credit hour was, I just knew that I needed 15 each semester to keep my scholarship. Taking Freshman Workshop (similar to STU-103 at MCC) helped A LOT! It was taught by my advisor and a senior. We learned about using the library, the career center and the Bulletin (catalog and student handbook). We learned how to navigate college life, the importance of joining clubs, and using professors’ office hours. I would never have known! My work-study job taught me about being a good employee, and how to manage my money and time. My advisors, professors, and boss provided the support that helped me complete my degree. I’m still in contact with many of them today!  — Heather Patendaude, MCC Financial Aid Director and #FirstGen
Andrew Corrieri
Life as a #FirstGen student isn’t always the easiest, the people in your immediate support group, family, generally have no way to relate to what you’re going through during the semester and around test times. If it wasn’t for the friends I have made at MCC, and the dedicated staff at the Student Success Center, I never would have even found the drive to tackle my worst subject; math. I was lucky to have friends to encourage me, who understood. I was even luckier to have access to tutors and other resources, like EdReady, all thanks to MCC. Now I have an associate degree and will be going for my BA. Never give up, never stop climbing. — Andrew Corrieri,  MCC Marketing Technician and #FirstGen
Kay Lynn Trybus
I dropped out of high school at 16, moved out on my own and started a family. My main goal was to survive and help support the family. I thought college was for “smart people” and expensive. I never gave my education a thought until I attended a friends’ graduation from MCC. The ceremony inspired me to start asking questions about college. She introduced me to Dr. Seney, Associate Dean. He quickly became my mentor. He took the time to explain financial aid & scholarships, introduced me to staff on campus and tutored me in math. I took a part-time job at MCC and found my extended family. I went on to complete my Bachelors of Science at Northern Arizona University and am proud of my accomplishments. My daily goal is to be someone’s “Dr. Seney” – Kay Lynn Trybus, Student Success Center Manager  — Kay Lynn Trybus, Student Success Manager and #FirstGen
Cheri Stromle headshot
My 5th grade teacher influenced me greatly in how I viewed my education. She had high expectations of every student, and treated each of us as if college was the sure path for all. I knew then that college was in my future. My parents supported my decision, but were not too sure how to direct me. I relied on the advice and events sponsored by the College/Career center at my high school to guide me initially. Once in college, I found similar events were offered on campus. I did however struggle in some areas. I remember feeling a bit lost when dealing with financial aid. I also remember taking too many math and science courses together, and it proved a challenge I was not prepared for. I have since learned the value of reaching out for help in all areas of the college experience. — Cheri Stromle, Academic Advisor and #FirstGen
Dr. Jennifer Woolston
Growing up, my schoolwork was completed via a typewriter. My family did not own a computer, and my first real exposure to using one (and MS Office) occurred in high school. Needless to say, I did poorly in that initial high school course, but I was able to learn the needed skills as a first-year college student due to the tutoring assistance available in my college’s Success Center. Additionally, I found myself utilizing that same Success Center and free resources for assistance as a transitional math student. Once I became aware of the free resources open to me as a student, and dedicated the time to regularly utilizing the support—I was then able to embrace success in areas where I had a learning curve. Despite challenges, I pursued full-time higher education for close to fifteen years—eventually earning a doctorate.   — Jennifer Woolston, Associate Dean of Instruction and #FirstGen
Dennis LeForce
I was the first in my family to graduate from both high school and college. I received financial as well as moral support through my college years. and my graduation from Arizona State University was a proud moment of shared attendance by my entire family. This was a big event in my life and a valuable shared experience for my family. — Dennis LeForce, Director of Precollege Studies and #FirstGen
Andra Goldberg
My first days at ASU were exciting but a little bit scary, too! I had no idea how large lecture courses worked, what was expected, or even how to find my classes on this large campus. I was fortunate that several friends of mine from Kingman went to ASU with me. We learned from each other and in just a few weeks – we were doing fine. My advice to first generation students – be brave! Everyone is new at something – ask questions – seek help – don’t get discouraged. Every week is better than the last and your courage and determination is what will see you through. MCC is here to help you – all you need to do is ask.   — Andra Goldberg, Resident CIS Faculty and #FirstGen
Alexander Exley
As a first gen student, I am lucky in that my mom always encouraged me to get the education she did not, because she motivated me all through my school career to succeed. Success in school got harder as I got older and started struggling socially with bullying, and I was honestly feeling burnt-out when I started college. It was also difficult that no one in my family knew how to go about the process of college, so I was largely on my own there. However, I kept pushing, overcoming my health and other obstacles to get where I am now, nearly finished with my Phlebotomy certification and Behavioral Sciences degree. It has been quite an experience working and studying here, and I would encourage anyone who is uncertain about education to look into every avenue possible for help and just go for it. — Alexander Exley, Student Services Technician and
Tamra Coleman
I feel incredibly lucky to have parents that supported my education as neither of them were high school graduates. They both worked without complaint to pay for my tuition at a private university so that I would have no student loans. I represented my family well as I succeeded with an undergraduate degree in physical therapy and went on to earn my doctorate. I’ve had a very rewarding career in physical therapy and am now able to pay it forward as I educate the physical therapy professionals of the future. My mom continues to say that it was the “best money that she ever spent” and I am very grateful to her for her sacrifices. No doubt that I worked very hard for my degrees and it has paid off in multiple ways.   — Tamra Coleman, Resident Faculty and ACCE, PTA Program and #FirstGen
Alex Davril
I never had the opportunity to go to college after high school. So, when my friend encouraged me to go to MCC and sign up, I tentatively did. I had no money for college or funding of any kind. The MCC advisors were really helpful. I got through the testing phase, filled out my FAFSA, enrolled in classes and … graduated last May! I’m a mother with a full-time job, and a student! I enjoy going to club meetings whenever I can and meeting up with fellow students at the library! This year, I decided to enroll in another degree – Healthcare Information Technician. I am an immigrant and the first in my family to attend college. My advice to new students… never give up and keep striving for excellence! #MCCFirstGen — Alex Davril, MCC Student and #FirstGen

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