Tamera Jones

College always was a goal for Tamera Jones.

Ever since Jones was a freshman at Senatobia High School, she knew she needed to continue her educational journey if she wanted to ensure a better life for herself.

Another motivating factor made Jones’ more special: She is the first in her family to attend college.

“To be a first-generation student means a lot,” said Jones, a senior who is majoring in family science and minoring in child advocacy studies at Mississippi University for Women. “It means showing my younger siblings that it is possible to go to college and graduate.”

Jones and other first-generation students, faculty and staff at The W are invited to be a part of the 1st Gen Mixer celebration from 4-5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, in The W Room. The event is part of the National First Generation College Student Day, which started in 2017 and commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Mea Ashley, the director of Student Life at The W, said it is important to honor first-generation students to keep them encouraged and to ensure they know all of the resources at their disposal to help them succeed. Awards will be given to students with grade-point averages of 3.0 or above. There also will be testimonials from students and staff members as well as refreshments.

“I wanted to be sure we acknowledged our W students in a way they would appreciate,” Ashley said. “Although we planned a mixer this year, hopefully, the celebration will grow over the years.”

The mixer also will give students an opportunity to network. For Jones, the event will be an excellent chance to meet people just like her who chose The W because it allows students to develop close-knit relationships with professors. Jones hopes the relationships she builds at The W will help her start a career in student affairs as she continues work on a master’s degree in Higher Education.

“College was not as I expected it to be,” Jones said. “I have faced some challenges I didn’t know I would have to endure during college, but it has been fun and full of memories.”

Jones said she knew as a freshman in high school that she didn’t want to struggle and that going to college has honed her work ethic and built her confidence to know she can live a comfortable life and that she will be able to satisfy her desire to travel when she is an adult.

Jones also can take pride in the fact she is setting an example other first-generation students can follow.

“Going to college means making my family proud and showing the next first-generational students that college can be an attainable goal if they manage their time and they are dedicated,” Jones said.

Samuel Garrie

Samuel Garrie is another first-generation student setting an example for others to follow. The native of Florence, Alabama, is majoring in history and minoring in French. He said his goal is to attend graduate school to obtain his master’s degree and then get his doctorate so he can become a professor.

“Being a first-generation student is hard,” Garrie said. “It feels like a lot of weight is on your shoulders because you are that example for anyone in your family following you. They look to you for that guidance in the future if they choose to attend college. I am the youngest of four boys, so I didn’t really have that college example because they all joined the workforce. However, I am paving the way one step at a time and keeping my head up.”

Garrie said the COVID pandemic changed how he expected college to look. He said he has learned a lot about himself through the last two years and that he has stayed focused by studying and networking. Garrie feels being able to “expect the unexpected” will help him as he continues with his studies.

“I have received praising feedback from my family on my achievements so far, and I am proud of myself, too,” Garrie said. “I have met many people and formed great connections. I joined Student Government Association as a senator during my freshmen year, and now I am vice president of it. I am also involved in other organizations on campus that have shaped me into the leader I am today.”

Nov. 8 , 2022
Contact: Adam Minichino
(662) 329-1976

About The W

Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

Be Bold. Tower with Blue.