First-generation college students have found success through the Dodge City Community College TRiO program that provides mentoring for students who are first-generation college students, from low-income families or have disabilities.

According to DCCC, analysis has shown that students who are the first in their family to go to college are often less prepared for its rigors.

One of those students is Vanessa Hernandez, who is the first person from her family to attend college.

"When I first started, I really didn’t know where to go to even get started," Hernandez said in a news release. "I was nervous, very nervous."

After her first semester, Hernandez transferred to a technical college in Manhattan before returning to Dodge City.

"It was difficult to find any one-to-one help," Hernandez said. "You’re basically on your own. When I would ask for help, there weren’t many tutors or I would have to schedule a visit with an instructor around their timeframe.

"I was really unsure about my future. I didn’t get the assistance I got here. My grades did suffer and I wasn’t sure that I would even finish."

Hernandez made her way into the TRiO program right away once she returned to Dodge City.

Through TRiO, she was able to receive academic tutoring; advice in course selection, financial aid and scholarship assistance; economic literacy; and assistance applying and transferring to a four-year university.

"Now I know how to make time for my schoolwork and job and dance and still be able to schedule time just for me," Hernandez said. "If they see that you’ve missed some class, they will always check in on you.

"They really want to know when you are having any kind of trouble so they can help you figure out how to handle it."

DCCC president Harold Nolte added in the news release, "First-generation students don’t have a parent or sibling who’s navigated college life. There are lots of details they can miss, simply because they aren’t aware all of their resources.

"Programs like TRiO at Dodge City Community College really help level the playing field for those students."

Hernandez plans to transfer to San Antonio, Texas, for dental hygienist school this semester.

"They really helped me challenge myself to keep moving forward and not stop at this level," Hernandez said. "Thanks to TRiO I have everything on track and I’m confident I’ll get to where I want to be."


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