First-Gen at WSU: Brittany Hopkins

Wichita State University is home to nearly 5,000 first-generation students, individuals whose caregivers weren't able to complete a college degree and who lack the firsthand experience to tackle college life. To help with their transition, Wichita State offers a number of resources to first-gen students to support them during their time in college, including F1RST GEN SHOCKERS.

Hear from Brittany Hopkins, graduate student success specialist in the Graduate School and a current employee at Wichita State who went to college as a first-gen student, about the first-gen experience.


Plymouth, Maine

What was your major when attending college?

Individualized major in language and development in children

What does being first gen mean to you?

I didn’t even know that it was a term until after I graduated and started working professionally in higher education. To me, it means starting a new future, possibilities for myself and my family, and proving that you can do scary and uncertain things. It helps you grow into someone completely new.

How has your first-gen experience inspired you?

I went into college with no guidance or advice on how to navigate life as a college student. Seeing that there were other people in the same situation as me and being able to lean on each other made it so much easier. Although it took me an extra year to graduate, it taught me valuable lessons in determination, strength and confidence.

Why does advocating for first-gen students matter?

Many first-gen students may be too scared or intimidated to speak up with questions or concerns because of the fear of sticking out or looking silly. I feel it’s incredibly important to not only advocate for first-gen students, but to give them a safe environment to explore, learn and be supported throughout their college experience.

What can faculty and staff do to help first-gen students?

Check in with students, even if they may not be in your course. If you see a student on campus who may look lost or confused, introduce yourself and just say hello. A positive interaction could make the difference in that student feeling comfortable asking a question or getting the help they may need.

About Wichita State University

Wichita State University is Kansas' only urban public research university, enrolling more than 23,000 students between its main campus and WSU Tech, including students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and is home to a number of global companies and organizations.

Follow Wichita State on social media:

Read more stories like this