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First Generation Students


Valerie Mendoza

Welcome First Generation Blue Devils!

Being the first in your family to go to college is both exciting and challenging. There’s a place for you here and KCKCC Supports your success. We’re here to provide you a community of Fearless Firsts. You belong.

A resource guide aimed at helping undergraduate and graduate First-Gen students. The resource guide is filled with on-campus and off-campus resources available to students.

What is a First-Generation Student?

First-generation students are those with neither parent/guardian having earned a 4-year college degree.

As one of the first in your family to go to college, you possess strengths that will serve you well as a college student including enthusiasm, self-control, curiosity, perseverance/grit, optimism, gratitude and social intelligence.

KCKCC will help you tap into those strengths while also providing you with information and resources on how to navigate college.

From your first day you’ll find a strong network and support system as well as a vibrant community of students, alums, faculty and staff with shared experiences. We’re here to guide you every step of the way toward your educational goals, from advising and financial aid what classes to take for a seamless transfer. We’ll you on how to achieve an effective work/school/life balance and how to start a career that best suits your interests.

First-Generation Student Support

The Student Retention and Career Coach will help you:

  • Connect to campus resources
  • Adapt to Kansas City Kansas Community College
  • Receive practical advice, encouragement, and support
  • Recognize your abilities
  • Open a variety of opportunities
  • Learn from the experience of first-gen staff and faculty 
  • Live your dreams

Fearless First

Are you a first-generation student? Fearless First is for you. The Fearless First Club provides first-generation students with:

  • Resources to support students ‘educational and career goals
  • Events designed specifically for first-generation students
  • Connections with other first-generation students
  • Mentorship from some first-generation faculty and staff.

The purpose of the Fearless First club is to create a community that represents, supports and teaches first-generation students at KCKCC. The club accomplishes its purpose by creating events, hosting guest speakers, providing resources, and creating an inclusive atmosphere for students to learn about first-gen issues and how to support one another.

Fearless First promotes campus involvement and visibility with a focus on the retention and success of all first-generation college students at KCKCC. We are here to serve as a resource hub to assist current students as they navigate the campus and provide support in building community. We are open to any first-gen student at any time! Being first-generation college is an accomplishment that should be celebrated!

First-Generation Faculty Initiative

KCKCC strives to send a clear message to all first-generation college students: "You belong here and you are capable of achieving at the highest levels".

KCKCC serves large numbers of first-generation college students. The First-Generation Faculty Initiative aims to elevate the visibility of KCKCC faculty and academic leaders who were themselves first-generation college students. The main purpose of the initiative is to foster a sense of belonging that can boost retention and success rates among first generation students.

The First-Generation Faculty Initiative is a network of first-generation faculty committed to supporting first-generation students. They are active in the community, promote their first-generation identities, and advocate for the first-generation community at KCKCC.

As the Student Success Center tries to establish the First-Generation Faculty Initiative, we hope to accomplish the following goals:

  • Greater transparency of first-generation faculty across campus
  • An established community of students, faculty, and staff through Fearless First events and networking opportunities
  • Increased cross-campus support for first-generation students

Are you a KCKCC faculty member and identify as first-generation college? Join the faculty campaign by filling out this brief form! KCKCC faculty and staff: If you were a first-generation college student and you would like to mentor a student, contact Valerie Mendoza at or 913-288-7251.

Want to stay up to date on first-gen specific resources, job opportunities, internships, volunteer opportunities and Fearless First events? Fill out the above form and contact Valerie Mendoza at or 913-288-7251.

Nicole Graves

Nicole Graves, M.Ed., LPC

Campus Counselor
Pronouns: she, her, hers

I always wanted to go to college since I can remember. I always wanted to have the full college experience, live in the residence halls, and participate in college life. I knew I wanted a college degree and carry a briefcase to work!

My family was incredibly supportive from the time I expressed wanting to go to college; from the time I was accepted, until I graduated from Wichita State University. They were my cheerleaders!

I think the hardest adjustment for me was transitioning and remembering college is about time management, work-life-balance, and practicing healthy self-care mentally and physically. The challenges I had to overcome was making adequate time to study and finances. I had to learn how to study, ask for help and utilize resources on campus such as the tutoring services.

My greatest strength is the ability to build relationships and be engaged. I was very social then and now; I enjoyed meeting new people and being involved. It is a blessing and a curse because it is easy to get involved; a curse because it is easy to become too involved. College is work-life-balance.

My advice for First Generation Students is do not be afraid to ask questions in and out of the classroom, get involved in student clubs and activities, and take advantage of all the free stuff on campus. I wish someone would have told me that college is about the journey and make meaningful relationships along the way with your peers, faculty, and staff members because you never know when you will need someone be a reference for you. Also, remember, work-life-balance matters, before you know it you will be graduating.

Please remember that college is not a do-it-yourself project. There is a whole college community willing and waiting to help you. Do not be afraid to ask questions, ask for help and utilize your resources. Be willing to accept the “hand-up” when the olive branch is extended. Also remember free is for me and have fun during the journey!

Renee Gregory

Renee Gregory

Student Success Advisor

There was never a moment in my life where I didn't want to go to college. For me it was the next logical step in my educational journey. It was my opportunity to find a career path that I enjoyed and not a job that just paid the bills. My parents always pushed furthering my education and were supportive.

There was never a moment in my life where I didn't want to go to college. For me it was the next logical step in my educational journey. It was my opportunity to find a career path that I enjoyed and not a job that just paid the bills. My parents always pushed furthering my education and were supportive.

The hardest thing I had to overcome was budgeting and paying for things on my own. My parents while they were supportive, could not help me financially. I had scholarships and Pell grants to pay for housing and school, but I had to learn how to budget the money I earned from my work study job to pay for gas, laundry and any other expenses that were not covered. This especially became more important after I moved out of the dorm and lived with a roommate in an off-campus apartment my 2nd year of school.

I think my greatest strength was that I wasn't afraid to ask questions when I didn't know the answer to something. I visited my advisors and professors' offices when I had questions or needed someone to talk to. Asking questions and making connections would be my biggest piece of advice. Don't be afraid to find someone or a few someones to make a connection with. It can be your advisor, a professor, the tutor in the learning commons, anyone that you can go to if you have a question or need some advice. You never know where that connection will take you.

My first connection on campus as a student worker in the maintenance office, led me to another student worker position in the School of Library and Information Management. This position led me to a part-time position as an enrollment assistant for graduate students. My supervisor there encouraged me to get a graduate degree in educational counseling. That degree opened doors for me that led me to where I am today, a Student Success Advisor at Kansas City Kansas Community College. I found the career that I enjoy immensely, and it pays the bills.

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